Hanover advances to HCAC championship

Hanover College’s men’s basketball team defeated Transylvania University (Ky.), 87-82, to advance to the championship game of the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference tournament. The semifinal tilt was played Friday, Feb. 22, in Terre Haute, Ind.

Senior guard Ryan Nowicki (Westfield, Ind.) hit two free throws with 11 seconds left to give Hanover an 85-82 lead, then blocked a three-point attempt at the other end of the floor to help secure the Panthers sixth berth in the league tourney’s championship game.

Senior forward Brian Gunter (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.

Sophomore guard Tim Bass (Indianapolis, Ind.) had 18 points, while sophomore center Desmond Marks (Bloomington, Ind.) added 14 points and 13 rebounds. Senior guard Drake Hendricks (Muncie, Ind.) chipped in 12 points and Nowicki finished with 11 for the Panthers (18-8).

Ethan Spurlin netted a game-high 27 points and Barrett Meyer added 17 for Transylvania, which caps its season with a 20-7 mark.

The triumph marks Hanover’s third of the season against the Pioneers, but was the first meeting between in the schools in Heartland Conference tournament history.

The Panthers will face Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology or Defiance College (Ohio) in the championship. The contest will tip off at 7 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 23, at Rose-Hulman's Hulbert Arena.

The winner will earn an automatic berth in the NCAA Division III national tournament.

Hanover shot 49.1 percent from the floor (26-of-53) and hit 21-of-26 free throws (80.8%), including 14-of-17 (82.4%) in the second half.

The Panthers matched their season high with 14 three-pointers and canned 14-of-32 from beyond the arc (43.8%). Bass, Hendricks, Nowicki and freshman swingman Matt Wehner (Pendleton, Ind.) each made three attempts from long range.

Transylvania was 32-of-61 from the field (52.5%), but hit just 5-of-20 three-pointers (25%). The Pioneers were 13-of-19 from the charity stripe (68.4%).

Hanover vs. Transylvania (Ky.) statistics