FRANKLIN, Ind. – The Franklin College men's basketball team resumed Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference (HCAC) play on Wednesday (Jan. 3) night, welcoming the Manchester Spartans to the Spurlock Center as both teams resumed their conference slates.
Down by as many as 13 in the first half, the Grizzlies (3-9, 2-3 HCAC) clawed back to take the lead before halftime. Manchester (2-10, 0-5 HCAC) would put together a rally of their own in the second half, but Franklin closed out the game with a 10-2 run to earn a 73-67 win.
"We told the team after the game that they weathered three different stretches of the game tonight and came out alive," Head coach Kerry Prather said after the game. "In a way, it feels like we won three games tonight. We battled all night long and we didn't let this one get away from us when they made their late charge. We had guys make shots, get stops and make plays when we absolutely needed them down the stretch."
The opening 10 minutes of the game was all Spartans, as Manchester jumped out to a double-digit lead just six minutes into the contest. Down 27-14 with 11 minutes left in the first half, the Grizzlies rattled off a 16-3 run over the next four minutes to even things up at 30 with four minutes to go in the half.
The Grizzlies took their first lead of the day on a three from Kale Morris with 3:14 to play in the first half and closed out the opening period with an 8-2 run to make take a 41-36 lead into the locker room.
Franklin maintained a comfortable lead throughout the first 10 minutes of the second half, taking their largest lead of the night at 57-44 with 11:17 to play. Manchester refused to go away quietly, getting back into the game with an 18-4 run to take a 62-61 lead with five minutes to go.
But the Grizzlies would whether the storm and with 3:38 to go, re-take the lead on a clutch three from Morris. John Beineke gave Franklin the lead for good with a three-point play that made it 69-67 with less than three minutes to play, while the FC defense held the Spartans off the scoreboard for the final three minutes of play.
The Grizzlies were led by a career-high 18 points from sophomore Kyle Meyer. The Milan, Ind.-native came off the bench to go 5-for-7 from the floor and 8-for-10 from the free throw line on the night. Senior center John Beineke added 15 points and freshman forward Danny Goggans finished with 17 points and 10 boards, leading the way for a Franklin attack that out-scored the Spartans 44-32 in the paint and 22-5 on second chance opportunities.
Franklin knocked down 45.8 percent (27-for-59) of their shots on the night, going 4-for-10 from three-point range and 15-for-25 from the free throw line. Defensively, the Grizzlies limited Manchester to 35.7 percent (25-for-70) shooting and 28.6 percent (6-for-21) from long distance.
The rebounding battle was dominated by the Grizzlies. Franklin held a 51-33 advantage on the glass, grabbing a season-high 17 offensive boards. The Grizzlies also set a season-high mark with eight blocked shots.
Franklin will hit the road for each of their next two contests, the first coming on Saturday (Jan. 6) afternoon against HCAC-leading Mount St. Joseph. Tip-off is set for 3:00 p.m.