ANDERSON — There was no shortage of offensive fireworks as the Anderson University men's basketball team closed out its regular season and celebrated its six senior players.
In fact, one of the Ravens seniors did all he could to single-handedly keep a late-season win streak intact. But, in a game that saw very little separation between the two teams, the Transylvania Pioneers were just a little more explosive.
Pioneers junior Gabe Schmitt scored seven of his team-leading 18 points in the final minute as Transylvania held off Cole Hartman and AU 96-89 Saturday afternoon.
Hartman, one of the seniors honored prior to tip, led the Ravens with 29 points and 13 rebounds in his final home game. The physical forward left it all on the court and, according to AU coach Owen Handy, it was very representative of the career Hartman has had in Anderson.
"I thought what we saw out of Cole today, he's been so good here for four years," Handy said. "And people have no idea how banged up he's been for four years. He's played through injuries. He has barely practiced this year. Obviously, tonight, he was really fun to watch, and he's been a joy to coach for four years."
There was not much to differentiate between the two teams Saturday.
The biggest lead each team held was in the first half. The Ravens had a seven-point lead on several occasions, and the Pioneers built a 10-point advantage late in the first half at 42-32. But Hartman scored five points in the closing moments, including a 3-point basket, as the Ravens closed the half on a 7-1 run to pull within 43-39 at the break.
AU kept the momentum going in the second half, taking a 47-45 lead on a 3-point basket by sophomore Maurice Knight, who finished with 11 points. Hartman and Knight were among five Ravens who scored in double figures, but the Pioneers had five who scored at least 10 as well.
The Pioneers took the lead for good at 51-49 on a basket by sophomore Michael Jefferson. It was Jefferson, who scored 12 points and handed out 11 assists, who controlled the game the rest of the way. Transylvania played will with the lead, committing just four turnovers and having answer after answer whenever the Ravens did try to cut into a lead that hovered between four and seven points most of the rest of the game.
"We could never get enough stops," Handy said. "As good as we've been defensively the last four or five games, we were bad today. Some of that was (Transylvania). They have great depth and a lot of guys that can make jump shots. They're hard enough to guard if you're playing well defensively."
A Hartman basket cut the lead to 74-70, and it was the first of five times over the final six minutes that AU got that close, but it could get no closer.
Senior Stanley Duncan and freshman Michael Rogers scored 12 points each, and junior Malik Laffoon added 10 points along with seven assists.
Prior to the game, seniors Duncan, Isaiah Lockhart, Mike Peters, Hartman, Wes Davidson, Brady Ashton and Jalen Johnson were honored before the home fans.