Lexington, Ky. – The No. 6/9 Transylvania women's basketball team completed the run to its second consecutive Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference regular-season title on Saturday afternoon, defeating the Bluffton University Beavers, 70-56 in the regular-season finale at the Beck Center.
The Pioneers finished off their incredible 2019-20 regular-season campaign with a 23-2 overall record and 17-1 record in HCAC play to finish with a share of the HCAC regular-season crown with Hanover College, which also finished the conference slate at 17-1.
By virtue of a tiebreaker, the Pioneers earned the No. 1 seed in the upcoming HCAC Tournament and will host the semifinals and championship rounds of the HCAC Tournament next Saturday, February 29 and Sunday, March 1 at the Beck Center. The Pioneers' regular-season championship ensured the Pioneers would host the HCAC Tournament as well for the second straight season.
Transylvania will enter the HCAC Tournament as the defending champion of the tournament after winning last year's HCAC Championship game in Lexington against Rose-Hulman.
In a senior day game that began with tributes to Transylvania's two seniors Shelby Boyle and Ashton Woodard, the two combined for 37 points to lead the Pioneers to victory in another signature performance by the dynamic duo.
Boyle finished the day with 20 points, nine rebounds, seven assists, and two blocks on 5 for 10 shooting from the field and 4 for 6 shooting from downtown while Woodard posted 17 points, four rebounds, three assists, and one block on 6 for 10 shooting from the floor.
The Pioneers opened up the game on a 12-0 opening run before finishing with a nine-point lead at the end of the first quarter.
Over the next two quarters, the upset-minded Beavers worked towards closing the gap. The Pioneers scored the first five points of the second quarter before Bluffton responded with a 12-3 run to close its deficit to six points. The Beavers used timely three-point shooting to carve out a 37-31 halftime deficit.
Both teams played evenly in the third quarter as the Pioneers relied on quality two-point looks and the Beavers hit 7 of 8 free throws in the frame.
Carrying a six-point lead into the fourth quarter, Transylvania seized control of the game with its quintessential defense which has been responsible for much of its success in 2020. The Pioneers forced Bluffton into 17-percent shooting from the field in the final quarter while Woodard hit both of her field-goal attempts and all three of her free throws to put away the game, delivering the Pioneers their second-straight HCAC regular-season crown.
Saturday's finish marked the second straight year the Pioneers have produced a 17-1 record in HCAC play and won the regular-season championship. It is the third time in six years the Pioneers have emerged as regular-season victors in the HCAC, running the table at 18-0 in conference play during the 2014-15 campaign.
Transylvania will open up play in the HCAC Tournament next Saturday, February 28 at 1:00 p.m. against the Tuesday, February 25 quarterfinal winner between No. 5 seed Bluffton and No. 4 seed Anderson. The winner will advance to Sunday's HCAC Championship game at the Beck Center at 11:30 a.m.
The HCAC Tournament champion will earn the conference's automatic bid into the NCAA Tournament which begins, Friday, March 7 at a time and location to be announced on Monday, March 2 during the NCAA.com's selection show.
The Pioneers last season recorded their deepest NCAA Tournament run in program history, advancing all the way to the Sweet 16 round of last year's NCAA Division III Women's Basketball Tournament.
For more on Transylvania women's basketball, follow @TUWBX on Twitter