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Men’s basketball wins HCAC, plays in NCAA tournament

An exciting early-season exhibition game against the University of Kentucky Wildcats in Rupp Arena set the stage for one of the all-time best seasons in men’s basketball history. At year’s end, Transylvania had won the regular season Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference title, participated in the NCAA Division III national championship, and fashioned a 23-5 record that included a 16-2 mark in the HCAC.

Head coach Brian Lane ’90, named Coach of the Year in the HCAC, had high praise for the determination his players showed from start to finish. The Pioneers’ poise was evidenced by their leading the nation in fewest turnovers per game with a 10.1 average, and they climbed to a No. 14 national ranking at one point in the season.
“I just really liked how confident this team was throughout the season,” Lane said. “They took a very mature approach to not only the season as a whole, but to each individual game. Their preparation was good, and they understood how hard you have to play every night out.”

Transylvania and UK, who were tied at seven wins each in a series that began in 1903, played for the first time in 100 years on November 2. Although the Pioneers held early 11-4 and 19-17 leads, the Division I Wildcats prevailed 97-53 in the opening salvo of what became their eighth national championship season.

The Pioneers then tied a school record for most consecutive wins at the start of a season with 10 victories, including No. 10 against the University of La Verne in the D3hoops.com Classic in Las Vegas. Three games later, they began an 11-0 run in HCAC play on their way to winning the season title by four games over runner-up Hanover College.

Transylvania hosted the HCAC tournament and won its opening game over Anderson University 71-59 before falling 76-73 in overtime against Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology in the title game. After receiving an at-large bid to the NCAA Division III championship, the Pioneers hosted first-round games where they lost 84-74 to Carroll University.

Junior forward Ethan Spurlin was named Player of the Year in the HCAC. He led Transylvania in scoring with 16.8 points a game, rebounding with 6.4 boards a contest, and shooting percentage at 55.4. The National Association of Basketball Coaches named Spurlin a first-team All-Midwest District player and a third-team All-American, and he was named to the D3Hoops.com All-Midwest Region first team.

Junior forward/guard Brandon Rash joined Spurlin on the All-HCAC first team. He averaged 15.9 points and 4 rebounds while shooting 54.3 percent from the field. He was also named to the D3hoops.com All-Midwest Region third team.

Visit the men's basketball website for more information.

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