Bluffton, Ohio – A second-half rally for the Transylvania men's basketball team came up short on the road versus the Bluffton University Beavers on Saturday afternoon as the Beavers won 87-78 against the Pioneers in a Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference contest at the Sommer Center.
Gabe Schmitt scored a team-high 21 points for the Pioneers who dropped to 6-5 overall and 2-2 in conference play. Bluffton equaled the Pioneers, moving to 6-5 on the year and 2-2 in HCAC competition.
The Pioneers cultivated a 15-11 lead before Bluffton embarked on its most significant run of the game midway through the first half, outscoring Transy 15-0 for a three and a half minute span. The Beavers connected on six 3-pointers over the final 10 minutes of the half to shoot 7 for 12 from downtown in the opening period.
Trailing 42-29 into the final minute of the half, Brandon Cromwell added two free throws and a triple to cut the halftime deficit to 45-34.
The Pioneers posted a strong showing out of the halftime break on a 12-6 run as Schmitt began to score with regularity. Two free throws from Schmitt brought the Pioneers within three points at 53-50 with 12 minutes left in regulation. Bluffton's Dezman Brown lengthened the gap with a corresponding jumper before Spencer Hemmerich scored inside to once again cut Bluffton's lead to three with 10:19 to go.
Michael Jefferson continued the charge with two of his 17 points on the day to slice Bluffton's bending lead to 57-54 on a tip follow with 9:21 left in the second half, but the Beavers struck again with three timely 3-pointers over the next three minutes to grow their lead back to 11.
The Pioneers continued to battle, whittling the Bluffton lead down to five points with 1:36 left in the game but the Beavers hit free throws down the stretch to put the game out of reach.
Bluffton shot 54 percent from the floor, 44 percent from three-point range, and 81 percent from the foul line to finish off a healthy offensive afternoon while the Pioneers hit 48 percent from the floor, 33 percent from three-point land, and 15 of 22 free-throw attempts.
Jefferson added a team-high six rebounds and provided two steals; Lucas Gentry had nine points, two rebounds, one assist, and one steal for the day. Turner added nine points and two rebounds off the bench in 20 minutes of work for the Pioneers.
Transylvania will return to the road on Wednesday, January 8 as the Pioneers visit Franklin College for an HCAC contest. Tip-off between the Pioneers and Grizzlies is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. in Franklin, Indiana.
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