TERRE HAUTE, Ind. –Hanover's outside game was slightly better than Transylvania's inside attack Friday and the result was an 87-82 Panther victory in the semifinals of the men's Heartland Conference tournament, hosted by Rose-Hulman.
Transy, the No. 3 seed, is 20-7 while Hanover improves to 18-8. The Panthers entered tournament play as the No. 2 seed.
HCAC champion Rose-Hulman met Defiance in the other semifinal game later on Friday.
In a game that was tied three times and saw four lead changes, the Pioneers had a 50-24 edge in scoring in the paint. But that was offset by Hanover's 14 of 32 shooting from behind the arc, compared to five of 20 for Transy.
Transy's three high-scoring seniors went out with a bang if this was the Pioneers' final game of the year. Transy will have to see if it gets an at-large bid to the NCAA Division III tournament on Monday.
Transy was within one, 83-82, on a layup by Barrett Meyer with 14 seconds to play, but Hanover made four straight free throws sandwiched around a pair of missed Transy three-pointers. Transy had only one lead in the second half, but Hanover was never more than six points ahead over the final 11 minutes.
Ethan Spurlin muscled in 27 points, grabbed eight rebounds, and dished five assists while Meyer added 17 points to go with six boards. Brandon Rash fouled out after 201 minutes, but he had 16 points and five rebounds.
Trey Beuttel came off the bench to score 11 points and grab five rebounds, hitting three of six from behind the arc. Tate Cox had nine points and two assists.
Hanover, which shot 49 percent overall to go with 21 of 26 free throws, was led by Brian Gunter, who scored 20 points and came up with seven rebounds. Desmond Marks had a double-double with 14 points and 13 rebounds. The Panthers placed five players in double figures.
Transy hit 52.5 percent from the field. The Pioneers were 27 of 41 from inside the three-point line. Transy was 13 of 19 from the free throw line and had a 32-29 edge in rebounding. The teams combined for just 25 turnovers.
Hanover led by as many as 11 points in the first half, but Transy was within one, 43-42, at intermission when Rash hit a pair of free throws in the final seconds. That capped a 15-7 Transy run to end the half.
Rash had 12 points in the half, while Spurlin added 10. Beuttel came off the bench to hit all three of his field goal attempts, good for eight points.
Hanover, which had two regular season wins over the Pioneers, was led by 12 points from Drake Hendricks and 11 by Gunter.
The semifinal winners clash on Saturday at 7 p.m. with the HCAC's automatic bid to the NCAA Division III Championship at stake.
Transy is trying to get into the tournament for the second year in a row and for the fifth time since 2006.
Rash now has 1,358 points, which is No. 21 all-time. Meyer has 1,287 points, with is No. 26, and Spurlin is at 1,187, good enough for 34th place.
Hanover uses long ball to subdue Transy in HCAC tourney