Lexington, Ky. – The Transylvania women's basketball team captured the 2018 Pat Deacon Classic championship on Saturday evening, defeating the No. 11 Trine University Thunder, 63-52 at the Beck Center.
Taking on its first nationally-ranked opponent of the season, the Pioneers gradually built a 22-point lead through three quarters before withstanding a quarter-long rush from the Thunder in the final period to complete a double-digit victory against Trine, who had a season-high eight-game win streak snapped on Saturday.
The Pioneers improved to 9-2 on the year while Trine fell to 10-2 and suffered its first double-digit defeat of the season.
Senior guard Celia Kline earned Pat Deacon Classic Tournament Most Valuable Player honors and was named to the All-Tournament team with a game-high 16 points on Saturday, one night after ascending into the 1,000-point career scoring club.
Transylvania gradually asserted itself in a game that began with offensive futility for both sides. Trine began the night on a scoring drought of over four minutes before scoring its first bucket while the Pioneers leaned upon a three-pointer from junior guard Ashton Woodard 2:44 into the contest for a 3-0 lead. The Pioneers started the night 1 for 10 from the field while Trine's opportunities were few and far between, beginning the night 1 for 5 from the floor.
The Thunder began to find signs of offense in the back end of the first quarter, taking an 11-8 lead with 1:45 remaining in the frame. But sophomore guard Zenoviah Walker provided the final six points of the quarter, capped off by a buzzer-beating runner from 36 feet out to bump the Pioneers into the second quarter with a 14-11 lead.
The Pioneers began to craft their first significant lead of the night when senior guard Kristen Hayes buried back-to-back three-pointers early in the second quarter, putting the Pioneers out in front, 20-13. Transylvania continued to play positively from a cerebral standpoint, collecting a 9-0 advantage in points off turnovers over the first half as they took a 30-20 lead to the break.
Transylvania blasted out on an 8-0 run in the first two and a half minutes of the second half, capped off by a three-point play from Woodard as the Pioneers went ahead by 18. Senior guard Taylor Jackson hit a right-side three-pointer on an assist from Kline for the Pioneers' second buzzer beater of the night to end a quarter, as Transylvania led 56-34 after three.
Trine began the fourth quarter on a 9-0 run in the first 3:30 to cut Transylvania's advantage to 56-43. Kline hit a stepback triple to quell the run and reaffirm the cushion to 16 points with 5:40 remaining in regulation. Trine inched back, cutting the deficit to nine points with 1:20 in the game, but the Pioneers dribbled out of trouble down the stretch, producing consistent defensive stops to finish off the performance.
Woodard finished with 12 points, eight rebounds, and three assists on a 3 for 7 night from the field and a perfect 5 for 5 game from the free-throw line, becoming the other Pioneer to earn All-Tournament team honors. Walker added 11 points for the Pioneers while junior forward Shelby Boyle poured in 11 points, eight rebounds, and four assists.
The Pioneers ring in the new year with a return to Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference play on Wednesday, January 2 as they venture to Richmond, Indiana to take on the Earlham College Quakers. Tip-off between Transylvania and Earlham is scheduled for 3:00 p.m. Eastern time.
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2018 Pat Deacon Classic All-Tournament Team
Kayla Goldsmith, Methodist
Emily Schumacher, Wisconsin-Whitewater
Brandi Dawson, Trine
Ashton Woodard, Transylvania
Celia Kline, Transylvania (Tournament Most Valuable Player)