Lexington, KY – The visiting Rose-Hulman Fightin' Engineers overcame a career-high 25 points from Transylvania freshman point guard Cooper Theobald to emerge from the Beck Center with a 68-60 victory on Saturday.
After a weekend of uncertainty that began with visiting Rose-Hulman having to wait out an unrelenting blizzard which prevented travel in the final portion of their drive from Cincinnati down to Lexington on Friday, the visiting team arrived with plenty of time to spare for a 5 p.m. tipoff.
The two hour delay did not deter the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference rivals from butting heads once the Engineers reached their Lexington destination.
Upon arrival, Rose-Hulman scraped off the scoreboard promptly with an 8-2 run as senior forward Parker Stansberry picked up back-to-back fouls and the Pioneers struggled to get settled. With the veteran Stansberry saddled on the bench, Theobald and sophomore wing Alex Jones picked up the slack to keep the Pios in the game.
Theobald initiated the scoring after Rose-Hulman's opening salvo and Alex Jones scored five straight points to hold the line until Stansberry checked back in with eight and half minutes remaining in the first half.
With 7:39 left in the first half, Transylvania went on a 8-0 run to pull within two at 26-24, keyed in part by a long-range bucket and layup from senior guard Lowell Gordon, and the resurgent Stansberry's jumper. The Engineers then finished the half on a 7-2 run for a 35-26 halftime advantage.
Rose-Hulman developed a sustainable second-half strategy to lead the rest of the game wire-to-wire, but not without a series of rallies mounted by the no-longer-snowed-in Pioneers. Theobald saved 19 of his 25 points for the second half, shooting 6-for-7 from the field and 7-for 10 from the foul line.
Theobald tormented the visitors defensively as much as on the other end of the floor, picking up five steals in the second half - many of which contributed to open-court buckets and artful finishes. Theobald's five steals matched a career-high set at Bluffton back on December 9, 2015.
Transylvania was plagued by inaccuracies from outside, shooting 3-for-16 from the arc, with Gordon knocking down the only two triples of the game until Stansberry's connection with under 30 seconds left in the contest.
Rose-Hulman commanded the boards with a 43-29 advantage and found efficient looks from inside and occasionally out, shooting 45.5 percent from the floor and 5-for-13 from distance.
The Fightin' Engineers employed their depth in this matchup, outscoring Transylvania 25-2 in bench points. Four Transylvania starters played 30 minutes or more, with Theobald and Jones combining for 39 of Transylvania's 60 points.
The Pioneers won the turnover margin by seven, but Rose-Hulman converted their nine forced turnovers into 12 points, compared to 10 points off of 16 turnovers forced by Transylvania.
The result drops Transylvania to 6-11 overall, and 5-5 in HCAC play. Rose-Hulman inched a game ahead of the Pioneers to 6-4 in HCAC action and 9-8 in their total campaign.
The Pioneers continue a homestand as they play the role of midweek host to Earlham for their second meeting of the season. Tipoff is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Wednesday at the Beck Center.
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