HANOVER, Ind. – The Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference (HCAC) campaign tipped off for the Franklin men's basketball team on Saturday (Dec. 1), with the Grizzlies wrapping up a four-game road trip against long-time rival Hanover College.
The Grizzlies (1-5, 0-1 HCAC) held the lead following a back-and-forth first half that featured seven ties and eight lead changes. But a slow start to the second half proved costly, as Hanover (4-2, 1-0 HCAC) opened the final 20 minutes with a run that paved the way to a 75-58 Panther win.
"I thought we played exceptionally well in the first half," Head coach Kerry Prather noted after the game. "All the things we talked about and learned from the previous game had to do with effort. We really brought the effort in the first half but the wheels came off early in the second half. We did the opposite of what worked for us in transition defense and on the boards. Both of those are essential for us if we want to win going forward."
Both sides played at a break-neck pace in the opening half, with Franklin jumping out to an early 8-3 lead with deep threes from Kale Morris and Jordan Anderson setting the pace. Hanover erased the early deficit to take the lead for the first time, and they would hold onto the lead until a Sam Gutierrez triple made it 25-24 with 6:15 left in the half.
Down by a point with less than two seconds on the clock, Ismail Jones put the Grizzlies in front at the half when he picked off a long pass and drilled a three at the buzzer, spotting Franklin a 36-34 lead at the intermission. Both teams shot the ball well in the opening period, with Franklin going 12-for-25 from the field and Hanover countering with a 13-for-27 performance.
The game's turning point came right out of the gate in the second half, as Hanover knocked down four triples to open the period and take a 46-36 lead, their biggest of the game at that point. Franklin clawed back to within four following a Gutierrez layup that made it 51-47 with 11:18 to play, but Hanover rattled off the next 15 points to open up a lead that proved too large to overcome.
Kyle Meyer led the Grizzlies with 14 points and was joined in double figures by Kale Morris with 12. Matt Krause added 10 points and grabbed 14 rebounds while Gutierrez had 10 points and 10 boards, giving each their first double-double of the season. Franklin shot 37.7 percent (20-for-53) from the field, going 7-for-21 from deep and 11-for-18 at the line.
Rebounds were 41-35 in Franklin's favor with the Grizzlies recording 10 second chance points on 11 offensive boards. The Grizzly bench out-scored the Panther reserves, 17-10.
Franklin returns to action at home this coming Wednesday (Dec. 5), when they welcome the Anderson Ravens to the Spurlock Center for another HCAC showdown. Tip-off is set for 7:30 p.m.