HANOVER, Ind. – The second round of Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference (HCAC) play got underway on Saturday (Jan. 20) afternoon with the Franklin men's basketball team taking on the Hanover Panthers in search of a season split against their long-time rival.
The Grizzlies (4-13, 3-7 HCAC) got a team-leading 16 points from both Sam Gutierrez and Kale Morris on the day. But Franklin fell victim to a late first half run by the Panthers (13-4, 8-2 HCAC), which gave the hosts enough cushion to prevail with a 74-65 win.
Franklin jumped out to an early lead in the first half, getting long balls from Morris and Borden Kennedy to take an early 11-7 lead. Hanover would snatch the lead back later in the first half, but Franklin would counter with a 10-2 run to take their biggest lead of the afternoon at 27-22 with nine minutes to go before the half.
But down the stretch in the first half, it was all Panthers as Hanover outscored the Grizzlies 17-4 over the final nine minutes to take a 39-31 lead into the intermission. Both teams shot 50 percent from the floor in the opening 20 minutes, but Hanover 5-for-8 performance from deep and 10 free throws to just three for the Grizzlies provided the difference at the break.
The Panthers carried the momentum with them into the second half, opening the final 20 minutes with a 7-2 run to take their first double-digit lead of the day. Hanover's lead would grow to as many as 15 points in the second half, but Franklin would slowly chip away at the deficit after that, getting back within single digits at 67-58 after a John Beineke layup with 5:15 to go.
The Grizzlies battled hard down the stretch, but weren't able to cut into the deficit any further before the final horn.
Franklin shot 50.9 percent (29-for-57) from the field on Saturday afternoon, marking the fourth time this year the Grizzlies connected on at least half of their field goal attempts. Franklin went 3-for-14 from long range and 4-for-6 at the line.
At the other end, the Panthers shot 51 percent (26-for-51) from the field, going 5-for-12 from three-point range and 17-for-22 from the line. Both teams grabbed 28 rebounds on the day with Gutierrez' six boards leading the Grizzlies.
Franklin will be back at home for their next two contests, the first of which comes on Wednesday (Jan. 24) night when the Grizzlies host Anderson inside the Spurlock Center. The Grizzlies will be looking for the season sweep of the Ravens after taking a 100-98 overtime decision back on Dec. 6.
Tip-off is set for 7:30 p.m.