WINDOW CLEANER: Hanover sophomore Desmond Marks (with ball) rips down a rebound over Transylvania’s Barrett Meyer (11) and  Parker Stansberry during Wednesday’s game. Marks had his first double-double with 14 points and 15 rebounds in the Panthers’ 69-64 win. (Staff photo by David Campbell)
WINDOW CLEANER: Hanover sophomore Desmond Marks (with ball) rips down a rebound over Transylvania’s Barrett Meyer (11) and Parker Stansberry during Wednesday’s game. Marks had his first double-double with 14 points and 15 rebounds in the Panthers’ 69-64 win. (Staff photo by David Campbell)
Hanover built a 20-point lead in the first half and then held on for dear life to pick up a big Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference men's basketball win, 69-64 over Transylvania Wednesday at Collier Arena.

The Panthers, winners of three-straight after suffering through a five-game losing streak, couldn't be stopped throughout a dominating first half.

Tim Bass scored 12 points and Ryan Nowicki had 10, including a 3-pointer with 2:37 left in the first half that put Hanover ahead 47-27 and the Panthers led 47-31 at halftime.

But Transylvania (10-4, 5-2 HCAC) slowly chipped away and cut the lead to single digits with six minutes left. The Pioneers never closed the deficit to a single possession as Hanover hit enough free throws down the stretch to escape with the win.

"Artistically, I'm not sure the second half was how you would have drawn it up," Hanover coach Jon Miller said. "But it's a great win for our team against a great team."

Hanover (8-6, 5-2 HCAC) hit 54 percent (19-for-35) of its shots in the first half while building the big lead. The Panthers spread the ball around well in the first 20 minutes with seven different players scoring.

It didn't appear that the Panthers would have much trouble putting the game away in the second half. As late as 9:47 left, Hanover still led by 16 when Desmond Marks powered his way to the rim for a layup and a 61-45 advantage.

Hanover still led by double-digits when Transylvania's leading scorer, senior Ethan Spurlin, fouled out with 6:50 remaining in the game. Leading 63-51 at the time, it appeared that the game was all but over.

But Transylvania rallied without their leader on the floor and Miller believes that having to play without the 6-foot-4 forward may have changed the game.

"When Spurlin went out they had to go with a smaller lineup and that really hurt us," Miller said. "They put those 3-point shooters out there and we had to guard them and that opened things up."

Transylvania got a basket by Barrett Meyer moments after Spurlin's fifth foul to close the gap to 10 (63-53) and the Pioneers converted back-to-back Hanover turnovers into points to pull within six at 63-57.

Hanover aided Transy's comeback bid by struggling at the free-throw line. At one point, the Panthers missed five-straight shots from the stripe.

But the Pioneers couldn't take advantage. Although its free throws weren't falling, Hanover kept good the defensive pressure on Transy. The Pioneers pulled to within five (65-60) with a 3-pointer by Tate Cox with 4:22 left but didn't score again until 17 seconds were left and the game was out of reach.

"I don't think either team put on a free-throw shooting clinic in this game," Miller said. "If there were any basketball purists in the crowd I'm sure they were offended. But we hung on there and found a way and I think that's always a good characteristic."

Kyle James, Brian Gunter, Drake Hendricks and Ryan Nowicki hit a free throw each in the final 45 seconds to account for all of Hanover's scoring. A Brandon Rash layup with nine seconds left pulled Transy to within four (68-64) but the Pioneers got no closer.

Bass and Nowicki both finished with 16 points to lead Hanover but it was Marks who had the best all-around game for the Panthers. The 6-foot-5 sophomore from Bloomington had career-highs in both points and rebounds and posted his first career double-double with 14 points on 6-of-9 shooting and 15 boards.

"I think Des is starting to step up to the plate," Miller said. "I think the biggest word I would use would be assertive. He's starting to assert himself in the game."

Rash scored 19 points to lead all scorers while Spurlin and Cox had 17 points each for the Pioneers, who had a six-game win streak snapped with the loss.

The win moves Hanover into a second-place tie with Transylvania in the HCAC standings, two games behind conference leader Rose-Hulman. However, Miller believes his team is starting to come together, especially after the rough December stretch.

"I'll take most of the blame for (the losing streak)," Miller said. "One of the things you're trying to do, especially early in the year, is to figure out how your team can be best. That's one of the challenges of December non-conference games is that you want to have it figured out by the time you play conference games. And how the conference shook out we played some pretty good teams on the road. But I think we have figured some things out as a team. I give our players credit for persevering through some rough times and I think we've probably finally settled into what's the best for this team."



at Hanover


TRANSYLVANIA (10-4, 5-2 HCAC) - (f)Rash 19, (f)Spurlin 17, (g)Cox 17, (g)Meyer 6, Buettel 3, Sirkin 2, (f)Stansberry 0, Fudge 0, Morrison 0.

HANOVER (8-6, 5-2 HCAC) - (g)Bass 16, (g)Nowicki 16, (f)Marks 14, Van Kleunen 8, Wehner 6, (f)Gunter 5, Bingham 2, (g)Hendricks 1, James 1, Steinhart 0.

Halftime - Hanover 47-31. 3-Point Goals - Transylvania 6 (Cox 5, Beuttel 1), Hanover 5 (Nowicki 2, Wehner 2, Bass 1). Rebounds - Transylvania 30 (Rash 8), Hanover 43 (Marks 15). Assists - Transylvania 3 (Rash 2), Hanover 12 (Bass 6). Turnovers - Transylvania 11, Hanover 14. Total Fouls - Transylvania 21, Hanover 18. Free Throws - Transylvania 8-18, Hanover 12-22. Fouled Out - Transylvania: Spurlin. Technical Fouls - Transylvania: Spurlin. Hanover: Marks. Next Game - Hanover hosts Earlham Saturday.