Springfield, Ohio – The No. 11 Transylvania women's basketball team came back from a 14-point deficit in the second half to upend the Wittenberg University Tigers 59-56 on Saturday afternoon at Pam Evans Smith Arena.
The Pioneers shook off an upset-minded attack from the host Tigers by outscoring Wittenberg 17 to 4 in the final quarter of play to pull off the come-from-behind win, moving to 3-0 on the season. Wittenberg dropped to a record of 2-2 overall.
Ashton Woodard led the Pioneers with a game-high 20 points, including the go-ahead runner with 31 seconds to go in the contest to give the Pioneers a 58-56 advantage. Shelby Boyle finished the game with 12 points, including two key 3-pointers down the stretch in the fourth quarter to help complete a furious late comeback for Transylvania.
After jousting its way to a 6-6 early tie, Transylvania went on a 10-2 run via back-to-back 3-pointers from Shelby Boyle and Grace Shope. Boyle converted on a runner to finish off the run for a 16-9 advantage.
The Pioneers grew their largest lead of the game to 20-9 early in the second quarter on a right-wing triple from Calynn Jackson before the Tigers ended their field-goal drought of nearly five and a half minutes with a Korynne Berner layup, slicing Transylvania's buffer to 20-12. The Tiger bucket spurred a 7-0 run for the home team before Woodard became the fourth Pio to hit a three-pointer on the afternoon to grow Transylvania's lead back to 23-19.
The Tigers scored two more unanswered field goals before Woodard connected again from downtown to grow the Pioneer lead to 26-21. Wittenberg's offense heated up as the Tigers outscored Transylvania 23-13 in the second quarter on the way to seizing a 32-29 lead at halftime.
Wittenberg continued its momentum into the second half, burying consecutive 3-pointers out of the gate to build its lead to 38-29 two minutes into the third quarter. Woodard ended Transylvania's second-half drought with the first score of the third quarter for the Pioneers with 6:09 to go, but Wittenberg answered right back with another threeball. Wittenberg knocked down five 3-pointers in the third quarter to take a 52-42 lead to the final quarter of play.
Needing a flurry of stops and scores entering the final quarter, the Pioneers whittled away at their 10-point deficit with consistent defensive rebounding while the Tigers' shots stopped falling. Kennedi Stacy knocked down a three-pointer with 8:40 left in the first quarter and Shope followed with another with 6:50 to go in the quarter as the Pioneers sliced six points off of Wittenberg's advantage.
The Pioneers held Wittenberg to just 2-for-14 shooting from the field and 0-for-6 from behind the arc in the final quarter to anchor their comeback.
Trailing by four points with 3:45 to go in regulation, Boyle sank back-to-back 3-pointers as the Pioneers took their first lead of the half at 56-54. Transylvania knocked down 4 of 7 triples in the final quarter while holding Wittenberg scoreless for nearly six minutes.
The Tigers scored on a Riley Culver layup to square up the contest at 56-all with 2:29 to go before each team traded a cornucopia of turnovers down the stretch. With 52 seconds left, the Pioneers took advantage of that pattern as Boyle came up with a steal on an entry pass, leading to Woodard's go-ahead runner on the other end with 31 seconds remaining. After the Pioneers forced a stop, Boyle split a pair of free throws with 18 seconds to go. The Pioneers came up with two more defensive stops as time ran out.
Transylvania hit 11 of 30 three-pointers (37 percent) to 7 of 24 by Wittenberg (29 percent); the Pioneers won the rebounding battle, 35-32. Though Wittenberg committed five fewer turnovers than the Pioneers on the afternoon, seven of the Tigers' 13 turnovers came in the final pivotal quarter of play.
Woodard added seven rebounds and four assists in the win for the Pioneers while Boyle's final line consisted of 12 points, six rebounds, three steals, and two assists. Shope provided 10 points off the bench of the Pioneers on a 4-for-6 day from the field.
The Pioneers return to play on Friday, November 29 for the 2019 Pat Deacon Classic at the Beck Center in Lexington. Transylvania will take on Westminster (Mo.) College at 8:00 p.m. in the second game of a doubleheader to follow a 6:00 p.m. contest between Redlands and Maryville (Tenn.) College. The tournament will conclude the following day with a 4:00 p.m. consolation matchup and a 6:00 p.m. championship game.
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