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Pioneers hold on to win home opener

Centre's kiddie corps rallied strongly Saturday night.

However, Transylvania's savvy seniors didn't let their home opener slip away, and the Pioneers held on for a 68-60 college basketball win at the Beck Center.

Seniors Tim Tierney and Blake McCowan led the winners. Tierney, a 5-foot-11 guard, finished with 16 points and four assists. McCowan, a 6-5 post player, got 12 points and seven rebounds.

Barrett Meyer, a freshman from Franklin County, added 10 points.

Leading 53-35 with 91/2 minutes left, Transy saw its 18-point lead cut to four (57-53) with four minutes left.

The Pioneers (2-1) went inside to McCowan, who scored with a short jump hook.

Centre (0-2) pulled to within three, 59-56, when freshman Bryon Ellis drained a three-pointer with 2:13 left.

Nervous, Pioneers?

"Not nervous," Tierney said. "They were finally hitting shots. We were scrambling, leaving the wrong people open. We were looking to double in the post. They were kicking it around and we weren't rotating fast enough.

"But we told ourselves we still have the lead. We caught our composure and some guys stepped up and made some big shots, and we pulled it out in the end."

McCowan answered Ellis' basket with a strong move in the paint. Tierney followed with a three-point dagger with 1:07 left for a 64-56 lead.

"During that stretch there late (Centre's rally), our body language was terrible," said Brian Lane, coach of the Pioneers. "They would make a three and we'd drop our heads. They did a nice job of going inside."

Lane credited assistant Nate Valentine for calling to deny the pass into the post.

"That's what happened the last two or three possessions where they weren't able to score," Lane said.

The Pioneers went 2-for-7 from the free-throw line over the last nine minutes, missing the first half of a one-and-one three times in a row. They finished 11-for-21. Centre was 13-for-15, with sophomore Jeff Mullaney sinking 11 of 12.

"We showed great energy and great heart in coming back," said Greg Mason, coach of the Colonels. "We have the youngest team that I've coached in my time here. We've got to become tougher. I think we relied on guys who are no longer with us to provide the toughness.

"But credit Transy. ... Anytime we made a big-time run at them like we did at the end, Tim Tierney, senior guard stepped up. Matthew Parton got them off to a good start. ... Blake McCowan, when they really had to have a basket, they went to him and he converted."

Mullaney led Centre with 15 points. Ellis had 11. Senior Danny Noll scored all nine of his points in the second half. Alex Lloyd, a junior, had eight points and eight rebounds.

The Colonels led 5-2 and 11-10. However, they were held to seven Mullaney free throws over the last 15:50 of the half, which ended with Transy in control 33-17.