Written by Sports Information Student Assistant, Jake Sipes-Salter
HANOVER, Ind. - In a contest between the top two squads in the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference standings, the Hanover women's basketball team claimed victory over No.9 nationally ranked Transylvania by a score of 64-57 on Wednesday evening.
The win propels the Panthers to a 17-6 overall record with a 16-1 tally in the HCAC, while Transylvania falls to 22-2 with a 16-1 slate in the HCAC. The triumph extends Hanover's win streak to 10 straight, and also marks their 12th consecutive victory at Collier Arena dating back to last year. Effectively, this knots the squads atop the conference standings, with each squad besting the other on their home floor.
The Pioneers cracked the ice when Grace Shope made a basket to give them a 2-0 lead with 8:16 to go in the first quarter. Senior Kristin Mills (Cincinnati, Ohio) responded with a three pointer, but Transy responded right back with a trey of their own to put the Blue and Red in a 5-3 hole. A jumper from senior Katie Hartman (Madison, Ind.) at 7:05 was countered by a layup from Shelby Boyle on the other end to give Transylvania a 7-5 advantage with 5:19 on the clock. However, Hanover would close the frame on an 11-4 run, giving them a 16-11 lead at the end of one period.
The second quarter was largely scoreless for the first three minutes, as just one free throw by Transy was registered by the 7:00 mark. A layup from Shope cut the Transy deficit to 16-14 at 6:48, before Hartman buried one from deep to extend the HC lead to 19-14 with 5:51 until halftime. On their next possession, senior Alexis Nall (Mount Vernon, Ind.) cashed in on a three of her own to put HC up 22-14 with 5:13 to go. By 3:28, the Blue and Red were up 25-18 after senior Brooke Todd (Vevay, Ind.) converted on a free throw. The squads would go back and forth until the half, with HC holding a 29-24 lead.
The third frame kicked off when Hartman hit from behind the arc to put the Panthers ahead 32-24 with 9:49 on the clock. Junior Savannah Courtney (Lawrenceburg, Ky.) and Nall hit layups at 9:15 and 8:39 to give the Blue and Red a 36-24 edge. Transy responded with a 12-0 run between 8:39 and 4:05 to knot the score at 36 points apiece. In response, HC went on a 6-2 scoring string to end the frame, giving them a 42-38 upper hand entering the fourth quarter.
Scoring in the fourth began with a jumper from Courtney that pushed a 44-38 Hanover lead with 9:28 left in the game. The Pioneers responded with a trey from Ashton Woodard that cut the Hanover lead to one possession at 44-41 with 8:50 remaining. On the next Panther possession, Courtney went one-of-two from the line to give them a 45-41 advantage. At 7:15, Nall hit a jumper that broadened the gap slightly to 47-42 in their favor. Transy would rattle off four points to cut it to a slim 47-46 lead, but at 5:30 Nall made a pair of foul shots to make it a 49-46 Hanover advantage. On their subsequent possession, Nall converted on an and-one that helped HC to a 52-46 upper hand.
Transylvania would match the Blue and Red blow for blow during the next four minutes, and after a make late in the shot clock from Nall at 1:40, the home squad had a 58-51 lead. However, the Pioneers tallied six unanswered points inside one minute, bringing the score to 58-57. On the next Hanover possession, Nall once again converted late in the shot clock so that the scoreboard showed 60-57 in favor of HC with 0:29 to go. The defense would hold Transy scoreless for the final 30 seconds, and two trips to the line broadened the final tally.
On the night, Nall led the Panthers with 26 points and added seven rebounds, while Mills racked up 13 points and a team-high nine boards. Courtney rounded out those in double figures with 11 points and seven rebounds. As a unit, Hanover held the best shooting team in the conference to 18-for-57 (.316) from the field, well below their season mark. In addition, they won the offensive glass by a 19-17 tally, and grabbed six steals while allowing zero for Transylvania.
The Blue and Red will play their season finale at Collier Arena against Rose-Hulman on Senior Day, with action slated for 3 p.m., Saturday, February 22.