Highland Heights, Ky. – The Transylvania men's basketball team lifted the lid on the exhibition portion of the 2019-20 season with a 71-45 loss to the Northern Kentucky University Norse on Wednesday evening at BB&T Arena.
For the second straight year, the Pioneers tipped off their season with a highly-touted preseason matchup against an NCAA Division I rival from within the Bluegrass state.
After squaring off with crosstown neighbor University of Kentucky in a 94-66 loss last season, the Pioneers got their first look at their 2019-20 roster in action against Northern Kentucky on Wednesday.
Fresh off a trip to the NCAA Tournament and a first-round loss to eventual Division I runner-up Texas Tech, the Norse showed off their athleticism and size as they gradually built a 41-25 halftime lead behind an 11-for-15 display from the foul line in the first half. While each side started out cold from beyond the arc, the Norse shot 6-for-18 from three-point range to help build their 16-point halftime buffer.
Northern Kentucky's lead grew to 41-16 before a furious run by the Pioneers, capped off by a buzzer-beating three-pointer from Gabe Schmitt, cut the Norse lead to 41-25 at the break.
NKU opened up the second half on an 8-2 run, but a flurry of turnovers forced by the Pioneers translated into an accompanying 8-2 run of their own. The Pioneers continued to outscore Northern Kentucky to begin the half after Spencer Hemmerich hit a straightaway threeball.
The Norse responded with a 9-2 rush to push their advantage back to a 21-point margin with 7:10 remaining in the contest as Jalen Tate scored inside for Northern Kentucky. The home team would go on to outscore the Pioneers 30-20 in the second half to finish off the win.
Hemmerich led all Pioneer players with eight points on the night while Schmitt was next in line with six points on 2-for-5 shooting from three-point land. Schmitt, Lucas Gentry, and Aiden Pashley each grabbed six rebounds to lead the Pioneers on the glass. Tate was the game-high scorer with 22 points.
The Pioneers hit 20-of-56 field goals and 5-of-16 shots from behind the three-point line for a 36 percent overall shooting clip. Northern Kentucky sank 25-of-60 field goals and 10-of-34 three-pointers on the way to their preseason victory. Transylvania won the battle of the boards over the Norse, corralling 40 rebounds to Northern Kentucky's 38.
The exhibition sets the table for Transylvania's regular-season opener on Friday, November 8 in Cincinnati, Ohio as the Pioneers square off with Wilmington (Ohio) College at 7:00 p.m. at the Harrington Center on the campus of Mount St. Joseph University.
For more on Transylvania men's basketball, follow @TransyHoops on Twitter