BLUFFTON, Ohio – The Franklin College men's basketball team headed east for their final regular season game on Saturday (Feb. 17) afternoon, taking on the Bluffton Beavers with the winner earning the final spot in the upcoming Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference (HCAC) Tournament.
The Grizzlies (8-17, 7-11 HCAC) jumped out to an early lead thanks to a strong start on the offensive end. But the Grizzlies would succumb to a Bluffton (11-14, 8-10 HCAC) offense that shot 53.1 percent from the floor and knocked down 11 three-pointers on their way to a 96-73 win.
In his final career game, senior John Beineke finished with 28 points, going 8-for-14 from the floor and 12-for-18 from the free throw line. Kale Morris added 13 points on the afternoon for the Grizzlies, whose season comes to an end.
Franklin got off to a great start, jumping out to an 8-0 lead less than three minutes into the game. Bluffton would answer with eight straight points of their own, but a jumper from Jordan Anderson and a three from Sam Gutierrez spotted the Grizzlies a 13-8 lead with 16 minutes left in the first half.
Bluffton would take their first lead of the day midway through the opening half. Three ties and three lead changes later, Franklin would re-claim the advantage on a long three-pointer from Atticus Felling that made it 25-24 Grizzlies with seven minutes to go in the first half.
But the Beavers would snatch control of the game shortly after Franklin re-took the lead, rattling off a 13-2 run to take a 37-27 lead with just under three minutes to go in the half. When the two teams headed to the locker room for the break, Bluffton held a 43-31 lead.
Franklin would cut into the lead early in the second half, getting within 50-39 with 17:34 to go in the game after an Anderson layup. But it was as close as the Grizzlies would get the rest of the night as an 11-3 run from the Beavers followed to make it 61-42 with 12:26 to play.
The Grizzly offense was scorching in the second half, connecting on 57.1 percent (16-for-28) of their field goals over the final 20 minutes. But Bluffton maintained their scorching shooting performance in the second half, going 19-for-34 from the field and 6-for-11 from deep in the second half to pull away.
A total of 10 Grizzlies found their way onto the score sheet on Saturday afternoon as the team connected on 49.1 percent (27-for-55) of their field goals. Franklin went 5-for-17 from behind the three-point line and 14-for-22 from the free throw line on the day.
Beineke led the Grizzlies with seven rebounds, and was one of four players to tie for the team lead with two assists along with Anderson, Borden Kennedy and Morris. The Grizzlies committed a season-low eight turnovers on Saturday afternoon.