Pioneer men's basketball falls in conference opener at home to Earlham

Michael Jefferson dribbling

Lexington, Ky. – The Transylvania men's basketball team opened up the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference schedule with a 68-66 loss to the Earlham College Quakers on Wednesday evening at the Beck Center.

The Pioneers were unable to shake off the ill effects of a cold-shooting night from downtown as the Pioneers shot just 3-for-13 from three-point range on the night and 0-for-6 from deep in the first half. Earlham tossed in 8 of 23 triples to claim a sizable scoring advantage and hold off the Pioneers down the stretch.

Transylvania dropped to 3-2 on the season and 0-1 in HCAC play while the Quakers improved to 4-2 overall and 1-0 in conference play.

The Pioneers roared to an 8-0 start to begin the evening but the Quakers responded on a 12-4 run to even up the game at 12-all. From there, the Quakers grew more comfortable and began to craft a budding first-half lead, eventually stretching it to a 31-21 buffer at the half. Earlham buried 6 of 15 long-distance tries while the Pioneers struggled from behind the arc.

Transylvania blasted out of the halftime break on a 9-2 run to start the half, punctuated by a threeball from Schmidt to break the outside shooting drought as Earlham's lead was sliced to 33-30. Earlham continued to post key buckets and eventually grew its lead back to nine at 45-36 with 11:16 left.

The Pioneers grappled and fought their way back with hardworking plays, including a three-point play from Michael Jefferson with 11 minutes left in regulation and a pair of free throws from Schmitt to pull the Pioneers back within six points.

After Earlham claimed a nine-point lead with nine minutes to go, the Pioneers went on a 15-7 run to slice the Quaker lead to 57-56 with 4:25 remaining in the second half on a three-point play by Lucas Gentry.

Both teams continued to trade scores down the stretch before Gentry hit the second three-pointer of the night for Transylvania with 1:45 to go in the second half to bring the Pioneers back within one. Zach Larimore came up with a powerful block the other way and Schmitt drew a foul, burying both free throws to give the Pioneers a 63-62 advantage with 51 seconds left.

But the Quakers would have the final word as Earlham's Blake Bonin scored the go-ahead bucket on an inside drive with 30 seconds left, and the Pioneers turned over the ball on the ensuing play, giving the Quakers two more free throws. The Quakers padded their lead to five points before the Pioneers sank a final three-pointer at the buzzer for the official score.

Schmitt led the way for the Pioneers with 20 points on 6-for-8 shooting from the field and a perfect 6-for-6 night at the foul line. Gentry led the Pioneers in rebounding with nine rebounds and added 17 points.

The Pioneers are next in action on Saturday, December 7 as they visit the Anderson University Ravens in Anderson, Indiana. Tip-off is scheduled for 4:00 p.m. from O.C. Lewis Gymnasium.

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