ANDERSON — The 2018-19 season finale for the Anderson University women's basketball team could be seen as a microcosm for the entire season.
The young and brash Ravens started the game with intensity and success but ran out of gas down the stretch.
Junior Shelby Boyle scored 33 points and grabbed 12 rebounds as Transylvania overcame a first-half double-digit deficit and won going away 85-68 Saturday afternoon.
The Ravens, without a senior on the roster and loaded with freshman talent, started the season 8-6, but lost 10 of their last 11 to finish at 9-16. But for coach Lindsay Shade and AU, which had lost 39 straight to start the season — including an 0-25 campaign a year ago — the nine wins and solid performances by many of the team's freshmen give plenty of reason for optimism going forward.
"We always say the best thing about freshmen is that they become sophomores," Shade said. "We don't have any seniors, so we're encouraged to think where we were last year and where we are now. We've got a good thing going on here."
Against the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference champions for this season, the upstart Ravens looked to be in charge early.
Junior Carly Hackler knocked down an early 3, and junior Tatum Minier scored on a rebound basket as the Ravens jumped out 11-4. Another Hackler 3 and a jumper by junior Madison-Grant product Hannah Hawkins followed as the Ravens closed the first quarter with a 21-10 advantage. Defensively, they kept the Pioneer shooters in check early.
"It's been a rough final month of the season, and a lot of times freshmen hit a wall," Shade said. "I think they saw the light at the end of the tunnel and the final 40 minutes. It was really great to see the focus and the energy for our final game."
But Transylvania found its offensive footing in the second quarter, starting the period on an 11-2 run to tie the game at 23-23. But freshman Payton Moore scored on an assist from fellow frosh Lexi Dellinger before the latter hit a 3-pointer and an elbow jumper to regain a 30-23 edge.
That lead eventually grew to eight on a 3-point basket by another freshman, Kristin Dubois, at 33-25.
But the Pioneers closed the half on another run, 14-4 this time, including four 3-point baskets in the final moments, to take a two-point lead into the locker room. It was a Boyle trey that kicked off the run. In all, the Pioneers connected 12 times from beyond the arc in the second and third quarters and were 15-of-30 for the game.
"They shot 50 percent from 3, and they average 30 3-point field goals (attempted) per game," Shade said. "We had a goal of limiting that, but obviously we didn't, and they capitalized."
The Ravens hung around early in the third, with Moore tying the game at 39-39 and again pulling AU within one at 44-43, but a 15-4 Pioneer run late in the third quarter stretched the lead from 54-50 to 69-54, and the Ravens could not get back into the game.
Dellinger led the Ravens with 23 points and four assists while Moore had 16 points and eight rebounds. Hawkins added a double-double with 10 points and 11 rebounds. In total, 46 of Anderson's points came from freshmen.
"The future is really bright," Shade said. "They got a glimpse of what's in front of us if they put in the work in the offseason, stick together and keep doing the things that have gotten us to this point."