Lexington, Ky. – Led by a career-high 28 points from sophomore forward Kyle Gullett, the Transylvania men's basketball team rolled to an 83-60 victory over the Bluffton University Beavers on Saturday afternoon at the Beck Center.
The win was the elixir the Pioneers were in pursuit of in the 2016-17 Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference opener for both teams. With the win, Transylvania evened its overall record to 2-2, and 1-0 in HCAC competition.
The Pioneers found the outside stroke they had been lacking in their first three games, splashing home 9-of-19 attempts from beyond-the-arc, with Gullett providing four of them.
Freshman guard Spencer McKinney also got in on the outside fun, as he sunk 3-of-5 three point attempts.
The first half featured the expected intensity that long-separated HCAC foes conceive after a long offseason break; the pace was fierce and opportunities to display individual athleticism were plenty. Sophomore point guard Cooper Theobald led the charge early, scoring the first six points of the game for the Pioneers on the way to a 17-point day.
Theobald's fellow teammates joined in, as senior guard Alex Jones cashed in a jumper, and Gullet sent home his first 3-pointer of the day for an 11-6 Transy lead less than four minutes into the contest.
After scores from sophomore guard Hines Jones and Theobald, the Pioneers completed a 9-0 run to take a 15-6 lead. Bluffton began trying to dig its way back into the contest, but Transylvania answered each potential run with a timely jumper, while McKinney and Gullet took turns responding from outdoors.
Bluffton used a 3-point shot with two seconds left in the half to cut Transy's halftime lead to 37-30. But the Pioneers stormed out of the chute, as Gullet and Jones led the Pioneers on a 9-2 run to double their halftime lead in a three-and-a-half minute span. A 12-2 run extending from halftime by Transylvania saw the Pioneers take a 49-32 lead after Gullett sent in his second 3-ball of the half.
Another slew of threes came by way of Gabe Schmitt and Spencer McKinney to grow Transy's lead to 59-39 with 12:15 left in the game. The rest of the second half was a surgical procession to victory as the Pioneers outscored Bluffton 46 to 30 in the second half while shooting 64.3 percent from the field, including 6-of-10 from outside.
The game also marked the home return of sophomore forward Bo Schuh, who played his first game at home since sustaining a serious knee injury last January near the start of conference play. Schuh played six minutes off the bench and was one of numerous Pioneers to provide an emotional lift throughout the contest.
Transylvania shot 58.6 percent from the field for the game, and won the battle on the boards 38 to 13, keyed in part by nine rebounds from Alex Jones and seven from Theobald.
The Pioneers continue conference play on Wednesday as they journey to Hanover College in Hanover, Indiana. The Pioneers and Panthers will square off at 7:30 p.m.
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