CINCINNATI, Ohio – The Franklin College men's basketball team looked to make it two straight wins to open the year on Saturday (Jan. 6) afternoon, taking on Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference (HCAC) leaders Mount St. Joseph.
The Grizzlies (3-10, 2-4 HCAC) and Lions (9-4, 6-0 HCAC) went down to the wire inside the Harrington Center. Franklin had a pair of looks at the game-winning bucket in the final seconds, but the Grizzlies couldn't get either shot to fall as the Lions escaped with a 56-55 win.
Both teams flexed their muscles on defense in the early going with baskets tough for come by on both sides. Franklin would grab a 15-7 lead midway through the first half with Borden Kennedy capping an 8-0 run with his first three pointer of the day.
The Franklin lead would grow to as many as nine when another Kennedy triple made it 22-13 with 5:29 to play before the half. The Lions would hold the Grizzlies scoreless the rest of the first half, closing out the opening 20 minutes with a 7-0 run to make it 22-20 Franklin at the break.
The Lions came out firing to start the second half, knocking down their first four shots of the second half to take a 30-26 lead less than three minutes into the period. The Lions would hold the lead until the 11-minute mark, when a Kennedy layup put Franklin back in front, 37-36.
That set the stage for a dramatic final 11 minutes of play that saw nine lead changes and four ties before the final horn sounded. A three-pointer from Kale Morris followed by a Kyle Meyer layup put Franklin up 48-46 with five minutes to go. Morris would put the Grizzlies in front with 56 seconds to play, knocking down a big jumper that made it 55-54.
Erik Edwards responded with a layup on the other end that put the Lions back in front, giving the Grizzlies the ball with 37 seconds to play. Franklin would have four different looks at the go-ahead basket in the final 30 seconds. The final came at the horn, but a Morris jumper was just off the mark.
Kennedy led the Grizzlies with a career-high 12 points and was the only member of the Grizzlies to reach double figures on the day. The Attica, Ind.-native went 4-for-9 from the floor and 2-for-3 from long range on the day. The Grizzlies shot 36.1 percent (22-for-61) from the floor on Saturday afternoon, going 5-for-8 from three-point range and 6-for-7 from the free throw line. The Franklin defense held the Lions to 42.6 percent (20-for-47) shooting on the day.
Meyer led the Grizzlies with eight rebounds off the bench as Franklin finished the day with a 40-30 edge in the rebounding battle. Turnovers were 12-11 in favor of the Lions while Franklin held a 12-11 edge in points off turnovers.
Next up for the Grizzlies is a trip to Terre Haute, Ind. on Wednesday (Jan. 6) night, where they will face Rose-Hulman for the first time this year. Tip-off is set for 7:30 p.m.