Pittsburgh, Pa. – The Transylvania men's basketball team erased a double-digit deficit on Saturday afternoon against the No. 9 Hamilton College Continentals, but the comeback fell short for the Pioneers as they fell 73-63 at the Skibo Gymnasium on the campus of Carnegie Mellon University.
Competing against a top-10 nationally-ranked power which advanced to the Sweet 16 round of the NCAA Tournament last season, the Pioneers took aim at the Continentals in the second half of the DoubleTree Invitational Tournament, hosted by Carnegie Mellon.
The Pioneers weathered an early blow from the Continentals, who shot the lights out from behind the arc to start the afternoon, courtesy of three opening 3-pointers by Michael Grassey and four in total as the Continentals assumed a 16-4 lead.
The Pioneers spent the rest of the first half carving away gradually at Hamilton's lead, making inroads from freshman center Luke Schroeder, who scored six of his career-high 19 points on the day in the first 10 minutes of the contest as the Pioneers inched back, trailing 21-13 at the midway point of the half.
Hamilton secured more power, using two consecutive scores to grab its largest lead of the day at 34-19 with 4:06 left in the first half. The Pioneers responded on a 6-0 run with time running out in the half, but Grassey hit another 3-pointer at the halftime buzzer to send the Continentals into the break with a 12-point advantage.
Transylvania quickly rallied out of the locker room, using three immediate buckets from Schroeder and a pair of field goals from sophomore guard Devin Twenty to start the half on a 10-2 run, cutting Hamilton's lead to four.
The Pioneers erased all of the Hamilton deficit when junior guard Spencer McKinney drained a three-point shot with 12:16 to go in the second half, cutting the deficit to three points, followed by a 2-for-2 trip to the foul line by Twenty on the next possession, and another jumper by McKinney from the left wing as Transylvania saw its first lead of the day at 49-48.
Now trailing, Hamilton leaned back upon its inside game, reclaiming a slim lead on an assortment of key offensive rebounds and scores off inside cuts and close-range finishes. The Continentals went back up on Transy, 57-54 with under six minutes to go in the contest when Schroeder was hit and scored inside, completing the three-point play and tying the game again.
Senior forward Bo Schuh answered a layup by Hamilton's Tim Doyle for a 59-59 tie with four minutes left, but Hamilton scored five points in its next two possessions to find the security it needed to close out the game.
With 1:26 remaining, sophomore guard Michael Jefferson scored on an inside drive, and the Pioneers immediately forced a backcourt turnover. The takeaway led to an open right corner three-point attempt by McKinney, but the launch missed long and Hamilton hit free throws the other way to stretch the lead back to six points with 1:04 left.
The Pioneers found one last gasp on a layup by Schroeder with 29 seconds to go, but Hamilton hit free throws the other way to take an eight-point lead and put the game on ice.
Hamilton improved to 4-0 on the season while the Pioneers dropped to 1-3.
Schroeder's 19-point day came on an efficient line of 8-10 shooting from the floor and a perfect 3-for-3 day at the free-throw line. The freshman also tabulated a career-high 13 rebounds while adding two blocks.
Twenty was the other double-digit scoring starter, posting 10 points with four assists, one board, one steal, and one block. McKinney added 12 points off the bench, hitting two 3-pointers and shooting 5-for-11 overall.
Transylvania shot 40 percent from the field on 25-for-63 shooting while the Continentals posted a 42 percent day from the floor.
The Pioneers return to action in the second day of the DoubleTree Invitational tomorrow against Frostburg State University at 1:00 p.m.
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