The Pioneers (7-3) took a 50-45 lead on a drive by Joey Verax, who had a game-high 23 points.
Sophomore Ryan Crowdis, who scored 10 points and added three assists, drilled a 3-pointer against the Pioneers' zone to make it a two-point game with 3 minutes left.
"I thought the biggest shot in the game for us was Ryan's three. We were down five, and things didn't look very good," Mason said. "Then we just came up with big plays down the stretch."
Transylvania coach Brian Lane was not happy that his team could not protect its lead.
"We struggled to guard people, and I was disappointed that we were up five and in our zone and left him wide open," Lane said. "I looked away, I knew (Crowdis) would make it."
Baskets by Verax and Aaron Cash bookended two buckets from Centre's Matt Jacobson to make it a 54-52 Transy lead with 25 seconds left, setting up Britt's shot.
Controversy at the end
With the clock winding down, Crowdis penetrated and found a wide-open Britt on the left wing for the game winner.
"It was a big shot. Ryan penetrated on the baseline, my man helped and Ryan made a great pass and I just got lucky it went in," said Britt, who had all five of his points in the second half. "It felt good, most of the other ones I shot didn't feel good. I was just happy to see it go in."
However, the game would not end without some controversy.
After Britt's basket and a Centre foul, the Pioneers were inbounding the ball with 5.1 seconds left. The buzzer inadvertently sounded as Transy inbounded the ball to Verax, who made a long jumper. But the officials had already stopped play, negating the bucket. Lane said that did not cost his team the win.
"The game was decided, I thought, a long time before that," Lane said. "They just did a good job defensively against us in the first half."
After another Centre foul to run the clock down, the Colonels had yet to reach their limit, Jacobson knocked the inbounds pass away and dove to the floor for the steal to seal the victory.
"It's been two years since we beat them and it's great to get them finally," said senior John Patterson, who had six points and nine rebounds.
And after a poor-shooting second half, both teams heated up over the final 20 minutes. Centre shot 58 percent (14-for-24) in the second half and finished the night 25-for-53 shooting for 47.2 percent. Transy shot 51 percent in the second half and was 23-for-56 for the game Tuesday, a 41 percent effort.
"I thought both teams, there was good defense being played, but I thought both teams were a little tight. But the second half we kind of settled down. They knocked down some big threes that knocked us back on our heels," Mason said. "We've lost a lot of last-second shots in here, and we've won a lot of last-second shots against Transy. Luckily tonight we came out on the winning end."
Centre had a 25-20 lead to start the second half, but Transylvania had two 3-pointers from Verax and another from Joey Searle on consecutive trips to take its first lead since early in the game at 33-31 with 151/2 minutes to play. Centre got the lead back to six points and 43-37 on Matt Nestheide's layup with less than nine minutes to play before the Pioneers rallied to take the lead.
Crowdis' drives, a dunk by Patterson and three straight layups from Nestheide, who led Centre with 14 points, five rebounds and three assists, put the Colonels up 14-7 early in the first half. Transylvania cut the lead to 22-20 on Tim Tierney's layup, but Danny Noll's 3-pointer with a second left gave Centre a five-point halftime cushion.
CENTRE 56, TRANSYLVANIA 54
TRANSYLVANIA (7-3): Joey Verax 10-19 1-1 23; Tm Tierney 4-8 2-3 10; Aaron Cash 5-7 0-0 10; Joey Searle 3-11 2-4 9; Nick Feagan 1-4 0-0 2; Cody Gilbert 0-0 0-0 0; Matthew Parton 0-1 0-1 0; Gary Mouser 0-1 0-0 0; Blake McCowan 0-1 0-0 0; Cody Swords 0-3 0-0 0; Stephen Gabbard 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 23-56 5-9 54.
CENTRE (6-3): Matt Nestheide 7-12 0-1 14; Ryan Crowdis 4-6 1-2 10; Matt Jacobson 4-10 0-0 8; John Patterson 2-6 2-2 6; Danny Noll 2-3 0-0 5; Thomas Britt 2-6 0-0 5; T.C. Thomason 2-4 0-0 4; Beau Braden 2-4 0-0 4; Kyle Christopher 0-0 0-0 0; Kris Bentley 0-2 0-0 0. Totals 25-53 3-5 56.
3-point goals-Transylvania 3-19 (Verax 2-6; Searle 1-5; Cash 0-1; Feagan 0-1; Parton 0-1; Swords 0-2; Gabbard 0-1; Tierney Tim 0-2), Centre 3-11 (Noll 1-1; Britt 1-3; Crowdis 1-1; Bentley 0-1; Jacobson 0-2; Nestheide 0-3). Fouled out-None. Rebounds-Transylvania 30 (Searle 8), Centre 34 (Patterson 9). Assists-Transylvania 5 (Aaron 3), Centre 13 (Nestheide, Jacobson, Crowdis 3). Total fouls-Transylvania 11, Centre 8.