Men's Basketball

Undefeated Transylvania tops No. 14 Wabash 66-61

Transylvania's Brandon Rash scored over Wabash's Pete Nicksic in the first half. Rash was named MVP of the Don Lane Classic, leading the Pioneers with 25 points and five rebounds. He scored the team's first seven points to keep Transy in the game early.
Transylvania's Brandon Rash scored over Wabash's Pete Nicksic in the first half. Rash was named MVP of the Don Lane Classic, leading the Pioneers with 25 points and five rebounds. He scored the team's first seven points to keep Transy in the game early.

Look what Brian Lane has already found under his Christmas tree.

Lane, the Transylvania men's basketball coach, directed his Pioneers to a 66-61 victory Wednesday over 14th-ranked and previously undefeated Wabash.

The win in the Beck Center came in the championship game of the Don Lane Classic. It also was the 177th for Brian Lane, in his 11th season, moving him ahead of Hall of Fame coach C.M. Newton for second place on Transy's all-time list.

Brian Lane now trails only the 509 wins compiled by his father, the tournament namesake who was on hand to present the trophy.

At 9-0, Transy is off to its best start since going 10-0 in 1990. The Pioneers don't play again until Dec. 28, in the D3hoops.com Classic at Las Vegas.

"Having grown up on this campus, I know what the names C.M. Newton, Lee Rose, Don Lane, Harry Stephenson — all those former coaches, I know what that means to be on that list just as basketball coach, regardless of wins and losses," Brian Lane said. "I know how special it is. ... It's not me. It's every guy that's played for me, from that very first year."

That the milestone came in an event named for his father "was neat," he said.

And it came in vintage Transy fashion.

The Pioneers overcame a 44-26 rebounding deficit by taking care of the ball (six turnovers), shooting well (especially in the second half: 14-for-23, 60.9 percent) and playing gritty defense. Wabash shot 22-for-64 (34.4 percent), although 12 makes came off of 36 three-point attempts.

"I thought our defense was really good," Lane said. "They set so many ball screens, and we used three or four different defensive strategies on the ball screens and kind of kept them off. To force 36 three-pointers, I don't think that's really what they were wanting to do."

Classic MVP Brandon Rash led Transy with 25 points and five rebounds. He kept Transy in the game early, scoring his team's first seven points.

Fellow all-tourney pick Ethan Spurlin, held to four first-half points, shook free repeatedly in the paint and finished with 19.

"I think it was just a realization of how they were guarding me, and just confidence," Spurlin said of his second-half awakening.

"I know polls don't mean anything, but it means a lot to come out here and beat a ranked team and a really good team in a really good tournament, and going undefeated into the holidays."

Tate Cox added 12 points and six assists, with no turnovers in 40 minutes.

"I knew (Spurlin) was going to come through, so I was just trying to carry us over until he started to get going," Rash, a 6-foot-3 junior, said of his early dominance.

Brian Shelbourne led Wabash (9-1) with 14 points. Derek Bailey had 11 points. Aaron Zinnerman had nine points and nine rebounds, and 6-7 Nick Curosh led all rebounders with 10.

Trailing by as many as seven points in the first half, Transy scored the last four points of the half to pull to within 23-21. Wabash didn't score over the last four minutes, including one possession of more than two minutes that saw the Little Giants go 0-for-5, then turn the ball over.

Spurlin drove through the lane to open the second-half scoring and a 7-0 flurry that put Transy on top 28-23. Barrett Meyer added the first of Transy's four three-pointers in the game and Chris Owens scored off an inbounds play.

Transy wound up outscoring the Little Giants 38-16 in the paint, often on drives.

"They're really big and really physical inside, and we knew we were going to have a tough time scoring over top of them," Lane said. "... We made some adjustments about trying to get it more off the dribble and starting at 15 feet instead of five or six feet."

Wabash came back and led 43-42 when Curosh banked in a free throw with 7:56 left.

Transy took the lead for good by scoring the next eight points.

Rash converted a three-point play, Cox popped in a trey and Spurlin converted both ends of a one-and-one.

The Pioneers sealed the win by scoring their last nine points at the free-throw line.

"They started knocking down some shots, 32 (Rash) did a great job of getting to the rim and finishing on us, and they just stuck with their game plan and made the game very physical for us," Wabash Coach Antoine Carpenter said. "Unfortunately, we missed some shots today."

 Rash and Spurlin were joined on the all-tourney team by Wabash's Shelbourne, Ben Umbel of Baldwin-Wallace and Colton Primm of Hendrix. ... Kyle Payne had 16 points to lead Baldwin-Wallace (7-3) to a 79-63 consolation win over Hendrix (2-7). Umbel added 11 points and seven boards. Primm had 13 points and 14 rebounds for Hendrix.

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