TERRE HAUTE, IND. (Feb. 23, 2013) -- A near-record 14 three-pointers helped carry the Hanover College men’s basketball team to a 87-82 victory over Transylvania University in Friday’s semifinals of the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference Championship Tournament at the Hulbert Arena on the Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology campus.
Hanover, 18-8 for the season and the tournament’s No. 2 seed, defeated the Pioneers for the third time this season and second time in the last 10 days. The team will now play in the HCAC tournament’s championship game for the sixth time in history.
The Panthers set the tone for the game by making their first three three-point field goals to open a 9-2 lead in the opening 1:26 of the first half. By halftime, three-pointers had accounted for 24 of their 43 first-half points.
Despite the hot shooting, Hanover only enjoyed a one-point edge, 43-42, at halftime.
The action was close and exciting throughout the second half, despite Hanover taking its largest lead, 50-42, with 18:35 left in the game. Another three-point field goal by senior guard Ryan Nowicki gave the Indiana team the eight-point edge. However, two and a half minutes later Transylvania had tied the game, 55-55, following successful free throws by senior guard Barrett Meyer. Then, another layup by Meyer gave the Pioneers their only lead of the period, 57-55, with 15:08 left.
Regaining its outside scoring touch with three-pointers by Nowicki and Matt Weiner, the Panthers moved back on top, 66-57, with 12 minutes left.
Transylvania closed the gap to within one point on five different occasions down the stretch. However, Hanover had an answer each time. Free throws by sophomore guard tim Bass put the Panthers on top 82-78 with 1:54 remaining, and successive free tosses by Nowicki once again put the team ahead 85-82 with 11 seconds left. He came back to block a game-tying three-point field goal shot in the final seconds by Meyer from the left corner.
Senior guard Brian Gunter paced all five Hanover starters in double figures with 20 points. Bass added 18 points and sophomore forward Desmond Marks had 14 points and a game-high 13 rebounds. Senior guard Drake Hendricks and Nowicki rounded out the double-digit scorers with 12 and 11 points, respectively. Junior guard Matt Wehner joined Bass, Hendricks and Nowicki in making three three-point field goals.
Transylvania, which ends the regular season with a 20-7 record, was led by a game-high 27 points from senior forward Ethan Spurlin. Seventeen of those points came in the second half on 7-of-10 shooting. Meyer added 17 points and senior forward Brandon Rash had 16 points after picking up two early personal fouls. The Pioneers lost despite shooting 52.5 percent for the game (32 of 61 field goals) and outrebounding Hanover by a 32-29 margin.
TAKING NOTE: Hanover came within one three-point field goal of tying the HCAC record (15) set by Transylvania in a victory over Defiance College in the 2006 tournament . . . Hanover leads the league with 14 final four tournament appearances . . . The Panthers last played in the HCAC championship game in 2011 (losing to Manchester) and last won the tournament in 2005 –- the end of a three-year championship run for the Panthers . . . Despite losing, Transylvania still has the all-time best winning percentage in HCAC tournament game with a 12-6 record.