Transy outlast Mt. Union in Mens’ Basketball Opener

Junior Spencer McKinney enters the ball into First year center Luke Schroeder in a previous game. Photo by Aaron Bell

The weather has cooled and the peach baskets are out, signaling that the dawn of basketball season is upon us.

Transylvania Men’s basketball team stands for National Anthem before first game of the season. Photo by Aaron Bell

On November 9th, Transylvania, led by head coach Brian Lane, hosted the Mount Union Raiders at the Beck center. The contest began at 7:00 pm and also saw the Transylvania cheerleaders and dance team perform.

The first half featured scrappy play from Mount Union. The strategy was simple, apply as much pressure to Transylvania as possible in order to force turnovers. The full court pressure did bother Transy and created 12 turnovers however, playing with so much aggression also resulted in 16 personal fouls for Mount Union.

With so many stoppages in play, the half became very stagnant and drawn out, and saw 22 free throws attempted. 17 of those were for Transylvania; however, foul shooting was far from accurate for the Pioneers as they delivered just 9 makes from the charity stripe in the first half. Mount Union also began to realize a lead when first year forward Diallo Niamke was inserted into the contest and used his strength and left handed finishing ability to score 12 first half points, all of which came in the paint or from the free throw line.

Transylvania was able keep the first half tight and overcome the lack of free throw makes thanks to forcing 11 turnovers themselves and netting 4 of their 8 three point attempts. Solid team play on the offensive end was courtesy of senior point guard Cooper Theobold. At the break he had dished out 5 assists to go along with 7 points. This kept Transylvania within an arm’s reach of Mount Union, trailing 40 to 36 at the half.

The adjustments were obvious in the second half for Transylvania, as the break provided Coach Lane an opportunity to address how to effectively neutralize the full court pressure of Mount Union, limit Transylvania’s turnovers, and contain Diallo Niamke in the paint. All three were done effectively as the Pioneers turned the ball over just 5 times and limited Niamke to 6 points in the second half. Theobold continued his strong performance, scoring when needed but using quick, intelligent passes to defeat the chaotic Raider defense.

However, the momentum of the contest shifted Transylvania’s way when Sophomore guard Devin Twenty entered the contest with 11:45 left to play. After some back and forth scoring from both sides, Twenty used his speed and scrappiness to score 5 points, gain 2 steals, and a rebound on consecutive plays. This burst of net positives for Transy gave the Pioneers their first lead in the second where they never looked back and began the year strong with a 74-66 win.

Though Transy showed huge team play with an outstanding 10 players putting points on the board, Cooper Theobald was the statistical leader of the contest with 24 points, 11 rebounds, and 5 assists. Reserve Will Sivillis also showed solid play scoring an efficient 8 points. For Mount  Union, it was their bench play who did the heavy lifting combining for 48 of the team’s 66 points. Despite his slow second half, reserve forward Diallo Niamke led the Raiders with 18 points and an efficient 8 for 11 shooting.

Transylvania will next travel to Emory Henry on Tuesday, November 13 at 9pm. While we will have to wait until December 1 to see the Pioneers at the Beck Center again, you can view the games live here.