RICHMOND, Ind. - Transylvania University pulled ahead late in the second half and escaped the Druley Performance Gym on Thursday evening with a 84-74 win over Earlham College men's basketball.
Earlham sophomore guard Jamel Barnes was the first to get on the scoreboard with a three off a Transylvania turnover. The Pioneers answered with a two-point bucket of their own which would set the tone of the first half of play: the two teams trading buckets over eight first-half lead changes.
Transylvania ran a fast-paced, high powered offense which Earlham combated with a press-style defense. Despite both teams playing well, Earlham closed out the opening half with an 8-0 run and entered the break with a 41-34 lead.
The Quakers saw trouble early in the second half when leading scorer Darrell Hutchison Jr. found himself in foul trouble, forcing him to the bench. Earlham was then tasked with finding an athlete to replace the production of Hutchison, and Rucker stepped up to the plate.
Junior forward Qawi Rucker was the spark off the bench that swung the momentum in Earlham's favor and got the fans back into the game.
As the second half wound down, Earlham's foul troubles got Transy into the double-bonus, forcing the Quakers to play a little more conservatively. Transy took advantage by going 19-of-27 at the free-throw line in the second half alone, with the Pioneers eventually taking the lead for good, 63-61, on a pair of Gabe Schmitt foul shots with 8:34 remaining.
Back-to-back threes by Transy's Spencer McKinney and Bo Schuh in the span of one minute extended the Pioneers lead to nine, 77-68, with 3:29 showing on the game clock.
Rucker was a force to be reckoned with all night, earning 24 points by going 8-of-11 from field goal range, 1-of-1 from the three-point distance, and 7-of-8 from the charity stripe. Defensively, Rucker also made his mark at the rim denying Transylvania buckets with eight blocks.
Rucker was one of three of Earlham's athletes to score with double-digits. Barnes and Hutchison joined him with 18 and 17 points respectively.
Men's basketball will hit the road on Saturday, Feb. 2, to match up with Franklin College at 2:00 p.m.