Transylvania staked out its claim in the paint early on its way to a 72-58 win against Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference mens’ basketball rival Franklin College on Wednesday night.
The Pioneers dominated inside play resulting in 20 first-half points and 20 more in the second half to go with a slew of free throws.
Transylvania (9-3, 4-1), the defending conference champion, has beaten Franklin eight straight times dating back to 2008-09 season.
For Pioneers coach Brian Lane, it was his 200th career win.
Coming off three straight wins and four out of its past five, Franklin was looking to build on its success, especially after its buzzer-beating 67-66 victory against Division-III No. 17 Illinois Wesleyan on Sunday.
The Grizzlies setback was also their first home loss against six wins.
Bolstered by the inside play of 6-foot 3 forward Brandon Rash and senior Ethan Spurlin, the Pioneers got out of the gate quick and ran off to a 14-6 lead, forcing Franklin to call its first timeout with 10:51 left in the half.
While Transylvania made good on easy layups in transition, the Grizzlies got one shot and one shot only on the offensive end.
For the first half, Franklin shot a meager 25 percent (6 for 24), while the Pioneers were 12 of 25 from the floor for 48 percent.
Franklin came out with renewed focus in the second half and quickly cut into a 29-17 halftime deficit. In the first four minutes, Franklin went on an 11-4 run to get with five points at 33-28.
While Transylvania continued to capitalize down low, the Grizzlies seemed to find their shooting range.
Senior forward Gunner Erwin, the Grizzlies’ leading scorer, knocked down a 3-pointer and a pair of free throws to get Franklin within four points.
As the Grizzlies gained confidence, Transylvania didn’t flinch.
A 3-pointer by senior guard Barrett Meyer increased the Pioneers’ lead to 45-38 with 10 minutes remaining.
Meanwhile, Spurlin, who finished with a team-high 21 points, buried a 3-pointer to increase the Pioneers’ margin to 12 points at 57-45.
Free throws down the stretch put Transylvania in the driver’s seat.
Also in double figures for the Pioneers were Rash with 18 points and Meyer with 15 points.
Meanwhile, Franklin (7-5, 2-3 HCAC), shot 34.6 percent for the game, hitting 18 of 52, and was 17 of 21 at the free-throw line.
Erwin led the Grizzlies in scoring with 21 points, 19 in the second half. Junior guard Bailey Howard added 13.