Wednesday, February 26, 2014
Ken Kunkel (Cincinnati, OH/Colerain) scored a season-high 22 points, and added nine rebounds, as the Lions posted a 75-54 home win over Transylvania University in the first round of the HCAC Tournament. The victory, the Mount's 17th in 25 games this season, propels the team to an HCAC Tournament Semfinal game, which will be played at Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology on Feb. 28 at 8 p.m.. The Lions win over Transy was their third the season. They split the HCAC regular schedule of games against the Fightin' Engineers, losing by five points at Rose-Hulman on Jan. 18 and recording a 69-57 win at home over them on Feb. 22 to close the regular season.
A win against Rose-Hulman on Friday would move the Mount on to the HCAC Tournament Championship game, where they would play the semifinal game winner of the Hanover/Defiance matchup, on Saturday, March 1 at 7 p.m. The 17 wins leaves the Lions just one behind their all-time season high (18) recorded in the 1999-2000 season, when they finished 18-8. The Mount has not been over .500 since the 2006-2007 when the completed the season with a 13-12 mark. This will be the Lions' fourth-ever HCAC Tournament Semifinal appearance, and their first since the 2005-2006 season when they fell to Transy, 83-79. The Mount has never played for the HCAC Tournament title.
Kunkel helped the Lions grab a 35-30 lead at the half, pouring in 13 points in the first 20 minutes of action. Kunkel hit a three-point shot to open the scoring in the gameand after ties at 22-all and 27-all, the Mount went on a 8-3 run to close the half. The Lions held Transy to 36 percent shooting in the first half, and out-rebounded the Pioneers 21-18. Femi Thompson (Cincinnati, OH/Aiken) helped the Lions off the bench, scoring 10 points in the opening half, hitting all six of his free throw attempts.
Kunkel and his teammate did not allow the visiting squad to make a run in the second half, as he fired in three straight free throws after he was fouled on a three-point field attempt with 15:03 remaining in the game, giving his team a 43-34 advantage. Andy Countryman (Peebles, OH/Peebles) hit a free throw with 8:13 to play, to give the Mount a 61-43 advantage with just over eight minutes left. The Lions took advantage of solid inside and outside shooting during the scoring run. Kunkel's lay-up with 4:58 on the clock gave the Mount their largest lead of the game, 67-46, and the Lions never looked back. The
The Mount's bench out-scored the Transy reserves, 24-8 and the Lions took advantage of their opportunities to score inside the lane and off the Pioneers' turnovers, The Mount forced 15 turnovers while committing eight miscues. Joel Scudder (Greendale, IN/South Dearborn) chipped in 10 points, nine rebounds, five assists and two steals. The Lions were 17-of-23 from the free throw line, to Transy's nine-of-13 from the charity stripe.