Greenville, Ill. – Playing against of the fastest-paced opponents in program history, the Transylvania men's basketball team fell on the road to the Greenville College (Ill.) Panthers, 125-109 on Monday night at the H.J. Long Gymnasium.
The torrid pace and contest with a plethora of points was not a surprise in the road duel with Greenville, a men's program that subscribes to a style of play commonly known as "The System." Programs around the Division III landscape who use The System are known for employing 40-minute high-pressure full court presses, coupled with a high ratio of 3-point shots, equating to final scores which consistently hit triple-digits.
In what promised to be a high-scoring game, the Pioneers and Panthers combined for 30 points by the 10-minute mark of the first half. While Transylvania contributed a requisite amount of turnovers befitting of the style of play the game lent itself to, the Pioneers' efficiency remained high as they shot better than 69 percent from the field in the first half.
The four leading scorers at halftime for Transylvania in sophomore guard Cooper Theobald, junior forward Robert Dence, senior guard Alex Jones, and freshman guard Gabe Schmitt combined to shoot 19-for-23 from the field as the Pioneers trailed 66-68 at the break.
The Pioneers' shooting cooled off in the second half, while Greenville's 3-ball shooting came alive. Two threes by the Panthers gave the home team a quick eight-point lead out of the halftime gate, and Greenville gradually began growing its second half lead.
While the pace remained breathtakingly furious, the Pioneers were plagued by 12 more turnovers in the second half, while Greenville took meticulous care of the basketball with only three turnovers.
Greenville grew its advantage to 16 points with 14 minutes remaining in the second half. The Pioneers responded with a run to cut the deficit to seven with 11 and a half minutes left on a three-point play from Theobald. But the Panthers responded again on a 6-1 run to take control of the contest.
Theobald was the game-high scorer with 26 points and shot 10-for-13 from the free-throw line, making it the second time in three games the sophomore has hit the double-digit mark in made free throws.
In a game that required constant anaerobic exertion for the entire evening, Transylvania head coach Brian Lane utilized 15 of 16 players to keep the Pioneers fresh on the court. With the roster fully deployed, the Pioneers welcomed the season debuts of sophomore forward Bo Schuh and Hines Jones as the two lettermen returned to full health. Freshman guard Harrison Lane also made his career debut; Lane, the son of Transylvania head coach Brian Lane and grandson of longtime Pioneers coach Don Lane scored eight points in his first collegiate appearance, along with two rebounds and an assist.
The Pioneers return to action this weekend as they usher in Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference play, hosting the Bluffton University Beavers in Lexington. Tip-off is set for 4:00 p.m. from the Beck Center.
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