LEXINGTON, Ky. – The Panthers dropped a heartbreaking match-up on Wednesday evening as they fell to Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference foe Transylvania. The Blue and Red dropped the contest 70-65.
Hanover moves to 16-8 overall on the season with a 10-7 mark in conference play while the Pioneers improve to 16-8 overall and 12-5 in the HCAC.
The Panthers saw four players finish in double-figures behind a team-high 20 points from senior Kevin Williams (Edinburgh, Ind.). Junior Mark Albers (Pendleton, Ind.) fell just short of a double-double with 15 points and nine rebounds while teammate junior Isaac Hibbard (New Albany, Ind.) netted 13 points and dished out a game-high nine assists. Rounding out the double-digit performers for Hanover was freshman Ty Houston (Union, Ky.) with 14 points.
After a fairly even first half that saw the Panthers enter the break trailing 36-33, Houston looked to spark the offense with back-to-back shots that put HC on top early in the second stanza. Williams would make his presence in the post known on the following possession as he hit a jumper that extended the Hanover lead to 39-36 with 18:12 remaining.
However, the Pioneers continued to hang around with consecutive buckets of their own before a huge three-pointer from Hibbard halted the charge. The Panthers used the momentum to push the advantage as Albers landed a deep ball that gave HC the 49-45 lead with just over 12 minutes to play. The hot streak continued for Albers as he connected with Hibbard for a bucket in the lane that saw Hanover capture their largest lead of the half with 8:29 remaining, 57-51.
Once again, the Pioneers came surging back with a quick run capped off by a free throw that cut the deficit to just 60-57 at the 6:34 mark. Two minutes elapsed without a score when Zach Larimore of Transylvania hit a jumper that ended the drought and pulled TU within 60-59. Their first lead since the 17:05 mark of the second half came moments later as a steal and a fast-break layup saw the Pioneers claim the slim 61-60 advantage.
But Hibbard had other things in mind as he deemed clutch from behind the arc to put the Panthers back on top 63-62 at the 2:29 mark. Transylvania capitalized seconds later as a senior Logan Ratts (Martinsville, Ind.) foul dealt costly sending Gabe Schmitt to the line for two shots. Schmitt would go two-for-two from the charity stripe flipping the script for the final time. The Pioneers went on to shoot a perfect four-for-four from the free-throw line in the final seconds to secure the conference victory.
The Blue and Red finished the night shooting a game-high 51.9 percent (27-of-52) from the floor with seven three-pointers.
Hanover returns to action on Saturday, February 22 as they welcome Rose-Hulman to Collier arena for Senior Day. Tip-off is slated for 5:00 PM.