Hanover College moved a game closer to securing a bid in the NCAA Division III basketball tourney with an 87-82 win over Transylvania University in the semifinals of the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference men's basketball tournament.

The Panthers matched their season high from beyond the arc with 14 3-pointers and outscored the Pioneers 21-13 at the foul line to advance to tonight's HCAC championship against defending tourney champ Rose-Hulman, a 81-59 winner over Defiance in Friday's second semifinal.

Ryan Nowicki, a senior guard from Westfield, sank two free throws with 11 seconds left to give Hanover an 85-82 lead, then blocked a 3-point attempt at the other end of the floor to help secure the Panthers' sixth berth in the league tourney's championship game.

Brian Gunter, a senior from Louisville, Ky., led five Hanover players in double figures. Gunter scored 20 points, including two free throws with 1.5 seconds left for the final margin.

Tim Bass, a sophomore guard from Indianapolis, just missed a double-double for Hanover had 18 points and nine assists, while Desmond Marks, a sophomore center from Bloomington, added a double-double of 14 points and 13 rebounds.

Drake Hendricks, a senior guard from Muncie, scored a dozen for the Panthers and Nowicki finished with 11 as the Panthers improved to 18-8 on the season.

Transylvania 6-foot-4 senior forward Ethan Spurlin, a National Association of Basketball Coaches All-American as a junior, poured in a game-high 27 points on 11-of-18 shooting from the field to go with eight rebounds while senior guard Barrett Meyer added 17 as the Pioneers close out the season at 20-7.

Hanover shot 49 percent from the floor (26-of-53) including 14-of-32 from beyond the arc (44 percent). Transylvania was 32-of-61 from the field (53 percent), but just 5-of-20 on 3-pointers (25 percent).

The contest was the first HCAC tourney meeting between Hanover and Transylvania and gave the Panthers a 3-0 sweep over the Pioneers in 2012-13. Transylvania was an at-large qualifier to the Division III national tourney last year after finishing as runner-up to Rose-Hulman in the HCAC tournament.

The Panthers and Engineers will tip off at 7 p.m. today at Hulbert Arena in Terre Haute where the winner will earn the HCAC's automatic berth in the NCAA Division III national tournament.




Friday's Semifinals

at Rose-Hulman, Terre Haute


TRANSYLVANIA (20-7) - (f)Spurlin 27, (g)Meyer 17, (f)Rash 16, Beuttel 11, (g)Cox 9, Botkin 2, (f)Stansberry 0, Sirkin 0, Fudge 0.

HANOVER (18-8) - (f)Gunter 20, (g)Bass 18, (f)Marks 14, (g)Hendricks 12, (g)Nowicki 11, Wehner 9, James 3, Van Kleunen 0, Bingham 0.

Halftime - Hanover 43-42. 3-Point Goals - Transylvania 5 (Beuttel 3, Meyer 1, Cox 1), Hanover 14 (Nowicki 3, Hendricks 3, Bass 3, Wehner 3, Gunter 1, James 1). Free Throws - Transylvania 13-19 (68%), Hanover 21-26 (81%). Total Fouls - Transylvania 23, Hanover 17. Fouled Out - Transylvania (Rash), Hanover (None). Technical Fouls - None. Assists - Transylvania 13 (Spurlin 5), Hanover 17 (Bass 9). Rebounds - Transylvania 32 (Spurlin 8), Hanover 29 (Marks 13). Steals - Transylvania 7 (Botkin 2), Hanover 9 (Hendricks 4, Bass 3). Turnovers - Transylvania 11, Hanover 14. Next Game - Transylvania's season ends, Hanover plays winner of Rose-Hulman-Defiance in HCAC champiopnship game at 7 p.m. today in Terre Haute.