FRANKLIN, Ind. – Following two straight games away from home, the Franklin men's basketball team returned to action inside the Spurlock Center on Saturday (Jan. 19) afternoon, taking on Hanover in the second meeting of the year between the two teams and the annual Bankers Rivalry Game in Franklin.
The Grizzlies (4-13, 2-8 HCAC) held the Panthers (13-4, 8-2 HCAC) to their worst shooting day of the year at just 36.7 percent (22-for-60) from the field. But the Grizzlies fell into a rut on the offensive end down the stretch, dropping a 62-54 decision to their long-time rival.
"We relied on our defense as much as we could today and we played our hearts out," Head coach Kerry Prather said. "We did a really good job guarding one of the best players in the country and we made them work for their buckets. We suffered through a scoreless stretch where good looks didn't fall and we couldn't come up with a couple offensive rebounds that would have been a huge help."
The Grizzlies withstood an early Panther flurry, cutting a seven-point deficit down to one thanks to back-to-back threes from Matt Krause that made it 16-15 Hanover with 10 minutes played. Hanover countered with a 10-0 run to stretch their lead to double-digits late in the opening half, but Franklin's defense grinded the Hanover offense to a halt over the final eight minutes of the period. The Grizzlies allowed just one field goal during that stretch, erasing the deficit and taking a 31-29 lead into the intermission.
The Franklin defense continued to fluster Hanover's offense in the second half, scoring 12 of the first 18 points to take their biggest lead of the day at 43-35 with 12:46 to play following a Kale Morris three. But buckets were tough to come by for the Grizzlies the rest of the way and the Panthers pounced, taking the lead for good with a Kevin William three-point play that made it 48-45 with 6:48 to play. Hanover made all three of their field goals and all four of their free throws over the final 2:23, closing out the win.
Sam Gutierrez returned to the starting lineup and led Franklin with 19 points on 7-for-16 shooting with a trio of trifectas. Krause recorded his second double-double of the year against Hanover, adding 13 points and grabbing a career-high 18 rebounds. The Grizzlies shot 36.8 percent (21-for-57) from the field, going 7-for-21 from three and 5-for-6 at the line.
Franklin held a 39-37 advantage on the glass with Morris, Payton Mills and Danny Goggans finishing tied for second on the team with four boards each. Mills added a season-high three blocks and Borden Kennedy dished out five assists on the afternoon.
The Grizzlies head back out on the road on Wednesday (Jan. 23), heading to Anderson, Ind. to take on the Anderson Ravens in search of the season sweep. Tip-off is set for 7:30 p.m.