Pioneers’ comeback falls short against Anderson in regular-season closer

tristan rob and family at senior day

Lexington, Ky. – Transylvania's bid for a double-digit comeback on its senior day fell short as the Pioneers suffered a 92-87 loss to the Anderson University Ravens on Saturday afternoon at the Beck Center.

Honoring senior forward Tristan Burgess and senior center Robert Dence prior to Saturday's regular-season finale in Lexington, the Pioneers jumped out to a 7-0 run and started the afternoon with high hopes. But a steady Anderson offense settled down and burned consistently through the rest of the game, finishing with a 68 percent shooting clip from the floor to gain the road victory.

The Pioneers finish the regular season with a 17-8 overall record and 12-6 record in Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference play. Anderson completes its regular season on a four-game winning streak, an overall record of 14-11, and a conference record of 9-9.

Transylvania's conference finish slots the Pioneers for the number four seed in conference play while Anderson finishes the season in fifth place, setting up an instant first-round HCAC Tournament matchup next week.

Saturday's result came despite a career day by sophomore guard Spencer McKinney, who scored a career-high 31 points off the bench. McKinney sunk 11-of-21 field goals and hit four three-pointers.

After overcoming its early deficit, Anderson roared back to take a 40-34 lead over Transylvania into the halftime break. The Ravens continued their momentum into the second half, erupting on a 19-8 run as they eventually built a 20-point lead over Transylvania.

A runner from Anderson's Trevor Lucas provided the Ravens with a 68-48 lead with 10:30 left in the second half. Transylvania then responded with its largest run of the game, catalyzed by a strong drive from freshman guard Michael Jefferson and another inside score from junior guard Cooper Theobald.

The Pioneers pulled within 10 of Anderson with 8:03 left in the second half after McKinney converted a four-point play. The Ravens used nonstop sharpshooting to stretch their lead back to 13, but the Pioneers continued to whittle away at their deficit.

Another triple from McKinney drew the Pioneers within four of Anderson with 25 seconds left in the game. Following an overturned 10-second call, the Ravens advanced the ball into the frontcourt and hit two free throws to put the game out of reach.

Theobald finished the game with 20 points on 9-of-13 shooting from the field and offered five rebounds and four assists.

Dence posted 10 points on his senior day and corralled five rebounds and three assists.

The Pioneers will open up the HCAC Tournament at home on Tuesday evening at 7:30 p.m. against Anderson at the Clive M. Beck Center. The winner will advance to Friday's semifinals in Terre Haute, Indiana.

For more on Transylvania men's basketball, follow @TransyHoops on Twitter