FRANKLIN, Ind. – After four straight games away from home, the Franklin College men's basketball team returned to action inside the Spurlock Center on Wednesday (Dec. 5) night, taking on Anderson University in their first Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference (HCAC) home game of the year.
The Grizzlies (2-5, 1-1 HCAC) came out firing on all cylinders, dominating the Ravens (2-5, 1-1 HCAC) from the opening tip on their way to a 23-point halftime lead. Anderson would trim into the lead in the second half, but the Grizzlies were able to hold off a late charge for an 82-70 win.
"We played a near perfect half of basketball in the opening 20 minutes," Head coach Kerry Prather said after the game. "We turned in a really solid effort at the defensive end and we scored a lot of baskets in transition. We executed well, built a cushion and were able to knock down our free throws to seal the win. Bottom line is, to win in a tough league you have to win at home. After tonight I feel better about that than anything."
Anderson grabbed their only lead of the night on the game's first possession, but it didn't last long as Franklin used a stifling defense and quick-strike offense to rattle off a 14-2 run. Later in the half, Franklin used a 10-1 run to stretch their lead to 30-11 with 6:36 to play in the half.
When the horn sounded to end the opening period, the Grizzlies held a 43-20 lead. Franklin shot 48.7 percent (19-for-39) from the field in the opening half while holding Anderson to 24.2 percent (8-for-33) from the floor, forcing nine turnovers and recording a plus-14 differential on the glass.
Kyle Meyer opened the second half with a bucket that stretched the lead to 25 points, Franklin's biggest lead of the night. The Grizzly lead remained around 20 points for most of the second half, but a five-minute span that netted Franklin one field goal allowed the Ravens to claw back within nine at 69-60 with 2:14 to play.
But the Grizzlies were able to settle down over the final few minutes, stretching the lead back to double digits with a Sam Gutierrez three-point play. The lead wouldn't dip below 10 points the rest of the way, with Franklin knocking down their free throws late to seal the win.
Gutierrez had a team-high 21 points while grabbing eight rebounds and handing out five assists. He was joined in double figures by Borden Kennedy, Kale Morris and Danny Goggans, who all finished with 14 points each.
Franklin shot 45.1 percent (32-for-71) from the floor on Wednesday, going 16-for-17 from the free throw line. The Grizzlies dominated the game on the glass, holding a 47-34 edge in the rebounding battle. Goggans and Meyer joined Gutierrez at the top of the team with eight boards each.
The Grizzlies held advantages in points in the paint (50-38), points off turnovers (16-14), fast break points (16-6) and bench points (25-16).
Franklin gets back at it on Saturday (Dec. 8) afternoon, welcoming the Defiance Yellow Jackets to town for an HCAC contest. Tip-off from the Spurlock Center is set for 2:00 p.m.