Pios stay in thick of tourney race with crucial win against Bluffton

Pios stay in thick of tourney race with crucial win against Bluffton

Lexington, KY – Alex Jones and Parker Stansberry continued their streak of superlative performances as they led the Transylvania men's basketball team to a hard-fought victory over the Bluffton Beavers at the Beck Center on Saturday, 73-64.

The Pioneers shot 50 percent from the field and had four players reach double figures in the game. Transylvania was led in scoring by sophomore wing Alex Jones with 21, building his streak of double-digit scoring games to four. Sophomore forward Robert Dence and freshman guard Cooper Theobald also cashed in with 10 and 14 points, respectively.

Senior forward Parker Stansberry turned in a dominant double-double performance, scoring 18 points and snagging 12 rebounds. He also added three blocks to the team's total of six on the day. Stansberry is averaging 20 points and 7 rebounds over the past four games.

Transylvania shot out to a quick 4-0 lead after buckets by Jones and Stansberry in the first minutes of action. The Pioneers would refuse to give up their lead for the rest of the day. After trading baskets over the next few minutes, Transylvania went on a 7-0 run, forcing Bluffton to call a time out at the 12:00 mark.

A Bluffton three cut the Transy lead to one midway through the first half, but the Pioneers quickly responded with a 9-0 run over the next three minutes of action, resulting in a ten-point deficit for the visitors with 6:48  remaining in the half.

Despite Transylvania's two first-half runs, Bluffton refused to go away. The Beavers inched their way back into the game, culminating with a bucket by Austin Rhode at the buzzer to make the halftime score 35-32 in favor of Transylvania. Jones tallied 11 points for the Pioneers in the first half.

During the first part of the second half, the Pioneers extended the lead back to six, then shifted into a sequence of trading baskets with the Beavers. The intensity level of both teams was clearly retched up from the first half, making ball control extremely important. Transylvania would finish the game with a mere seven turnovers.

Another timely triple by Bluffton cut Transylvania's lead to 53-51 with nine minutes remaining in the game. The Pioneers responded with another run of their own, starting with a monster offensive rebound and putback score by Theobald. The Pioneers' run was capped off by a bucket from Stansberry at the 4:30 mark, pushing the lead back up to nine.

Bluffton went cold from the field over the last six minutes of the game, but stayed close on the scoreboard thanks to a nearly perfect 10-for-12 performance from the charity stripe.

The Pioneers iced the game when Dence fired a laser-pass to Jones for a layup as the shot clock expired, pushing the lead to 65-56 with 2:30 left in the game. The Pioneers protected their lead by going 4-for-5 from the free-throw line in the second half.

Transylvania finished the afternoon shooting 50 percent from the field, and 88 percent from the line.

With the win, Transylvania now stands alone in sixth place in the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference standings, and control their own destiny in regards to the upcoming conference tournament. Their record now stands at 8-6 in HCAC play and 9-12 overall.

Next up, the Pioneers hit the road looking to continue their climb in the conference standings this Wednesday at Mt. St. Joseph as they take on the HCAC-leading Lions. Tip-off is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. at The Harrington Center in Cincinnati.

For the latest on Pioneers basketball, follow their official twitter page @TransyHoops