Lexington, Ky. – The Transylvania women's basketball team defeated the Franklin College Grizzlies 67-64 at the Beck Center on Wednesday night.
A well-balanced offensive team attack and some late game heroics by freshman guard Shelby Boyle all played a key role in the close win that had conference postseason implications.
With the win, Transylvania's record moves to 18-6 overall and 12-5 in Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference play. By achieving its 12th conference win, Transylvania sealed up at least the No. 4 seed and has the chance to grab the No. 3 seed with one game left in conference play.
Led by junior forward Rachel Cox's 16 points, Transylvania saw four Pioneers reach double-digit scoring in Wednesday's win.
The game started off in familiar fashion as sophomore guard Celia Kline knocked down back-to-back 3-pointers to open up an early 6-0 lead for the Pioneers. After four quick points from Franklin, Transylvania used some great shooting and lockdown defense to carry a 16-9 lead into the second quarter.
As the Pioneers' offense stalled in the second quarter, Cox came up with a huge play as she was fouled while knocking down a three-point shot to earn an ensuing free-throw attempt. The four-point play extended the Pioneers' lead to 27-13 with 5:47 left in the first half. Cox led Transylvania with nine points and six rebounds in the half.
The Pioneers outhustled the Grizzlies on the glass throughout the first half as they held a 19-12 rebounding advantage, including a 10-5 difference in offensive rebounds. This advantage helped Transylvania to build a 33-22 lead over Franklin at the half.
The second half proved to be an adventure for the Pioneers as the Grizzlies slowly clawed their way back into the game.
Franklin cut the Transylvania lead to 39-32 before a steal and back-to-back buckets by Hayes extended the Transylvania lead to 43-32 with just under five minutes to go in the third quarter.
Not to be deterred, Franklin went on a 14-9 run to end the quarter, cutting Transylvania's lead to 52-46 entering the fourth quarter.
The fourth quarter was full of sloppy play, as the Pioneers committed an uncharacteristic eight turnovers, allowing the Grizzlies to stay in the game.
Trailing by 11 with 8:39 left in the fourth quarter, Franklin trimmed away at the deficit until it grabbed its first lead of the game at 64-63 on a tip-in with just 41 seconds left in the game.
But the Pioneers came back with a timely response as Jackson forced a steal near midcourt and took it all the way to the basket before taking a hard foul. Shaken up on the play, Jackson went to the bench which left Boyle to shoot the free throws.
Boyle knocked down both free throws, giving Transylvania the lead back at 65-64. Transylvania's defense forced a Franklin missed shot on the next possession, and Boyle hit two more free throws to secure the 67-64 win for the Pioneers.
The Pioneers will finish up the regular season portion of their schedule as they travel to North Manchester, Indiana on Saturday to face the Manchester University Spartans. Tipoff between the Pioneers and the Spartans is scheduled for 1:00 p.m. at Stauffer-Wolfe Arena.
For more on Transylvania women's basketball, follow their official twitter @TUWBX