Danville, Ky. – The Transylvania men's basketball team was outdueled by the Centre College Colonels, 86-71 at Tom Bryant Court on Monday afternoon.
The Colonels improved to 10-2 overall while the Pioneers dropped to 6-4 on the season following the second meeting of the 2019-2020 season between the two regional neighbors. Monday's affair marked the first time the Pioneers and Colonels have battled twice in one season since the 1995-96 season.
Playing their first game in 12 days following a break for the holidays, the Pioneers went back and forth with Centre in the first half before the Colonels sparked a significant run to the begin the second half, eventually growing their homecourt lead to 19 points. Transylvania spent the rest of the day chopping away at the deficit, eventually cutting it down to single digits before Centre held off its Central Kentucky archrivals.
The Pioneers started out on the road with a 6-0 lead before their jumpers went cold. Centre battled back to an 8-6 lead before Lucas Gentry canned a threeball to push the Pioneers to an 11-9 advantage.
Transylvania focused on its perimeter attack while the Colonels began to find their big man Jacob Bates with regularity, who hit all six of his field goals in the first half to gain ground for Centre.
Brandon Cromwell broke a long-range shooting drought by sinking the Pioneers' second threeball of the game with 6:48 left in the first half to stretch the Transylvania lead to 20-15. Centre leaned on Bates and an emerging collection of outside buckets from the Colonel backcourt to overtake the Pioneers for a 32-25 lead. Michael Jefferson lined up a 3-pointer with time winding down to cut the halftime deficit for Transylvania to 32-28.
Centre found the first double-digit lead of the day on back-to-back 3-pointers to open up the second half on the way to a 38-28 cushion. Gentry hit a jump shot at the 17:34 mark of the half to cut Centre's lead back to 40-34 before the Colonels answered again with a timely shot from downtown to stretch their lead to nine.
Leading 47-38 five minutes into the half, the Colonels unleashed a 12-2 run to achieve their largest lead of the day at 59-40 with 11:36 remaining. Cromwell and Will Sivills provided corresponding 3-pointers to lead the charge back for the Pioneers as they began an extended comeback push.
Sivills knocked down his second corner 3 of the half to cut the Centre lead to 71-61 with just over four minutes left in regulation. Danville native Spencer McKinney turned in two free throws on the following possession in slicing Centre's lead to eight points. Centre held off Transylvania's final charge with one more 3-pointer inside two minutes to go, putting the game out of reach.
Centre was buoyed by a three-point shooting advantage in Monday's meeting; the Colonels hit on 9 of 17 triples while the Pioneers struggled from outside, hitting 5 of 24 threeballs at a 21 percent clip. Centre also carved out its fortunes at the free throw line, nailing 25 of 34 attempts to 10 of 12 shooting at the charity stripe by the visiting Pioneers.
Jefferson led the Pioneers with 12 points and six rebounds. Luke Schroeder hit on all five of his field-goal attempts to finish 11 points while Sivills added 10.
Transylvania is next in action on Saturday, January 4 to visit the Bluffton University Beavers in Bluffton, Ohio in a Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference contest. Tip-off between Transylvania and Bluffton is set for 3:00 p.m. from the Sommer Center on the campus of Bluffton.
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