FRANKLIN, Ind. – Powered by a pair of career afternoons from juniors Kale Morris and Borden Kennedy, the Franklin College men's basketball team picked up their third straight win with a 97-76 triumph over Earlham College on Saturday (Feb. 2) afternoon.
Morris set new career-highs with 32 points and was a perfect 17-for-17 from the free throw line while Kennedy added a personal best 23 points in support for the Grizzlies (7-13, 5-8 HCAC). Franklin shot 54.7 percent (29-for-53) from the field and 55 percent (11-for-20) from behind the line to earn a convincing win over the Quakers (6-15, 5-9 HCAC) and the season split with their HCAC rival.
"We built a big lead in the first half with really good defense and disciplined offense," head coach Kerry Prather noted after the game. "We lost our discipline at both ends of the floor as the first half ticked down but we were able to get back to what worked for us in the first half after halftime. We took care of the ball and slowed things down on offense and that took Earlham out of what they want to do offensively and made them grind in the half court. We got stops and a big win as a result."
Franklin turned to the long ball early on, knocking down four consecutive threes to take a 12-10 lead with 13 minutes to go in the opening half. The next six minutes was all Grizzlies, with Franklin out-scoring the Quakers at an 18-5 clip to take their biggest lead of the half at 30-15 with 7:40 to go.
But the Quakers would get into a rhythm for the remainder of the opening half, closing the gap with a 17-2 run to tie things up at 32 late in the first half. When the halftime horn sounded, Earlham held a 38-37 lead thanks to an offense that out-scored Franklin in the paint at a 20-10 clip in the opening 20 minutes.
The two sides traded the lead seven times in the opening three minutes before a 9-2 Franklin run would put the Grizzlies in front 52-46 with 15:40 to play. Earlham would answer and kept the deficit to a one-possession game, but another Franklin run would follow shortly after that stretch the lead back to double figures. Sam Gutierrez, Morris and Jordan Anderson knocked down threes and Kennedy capped the 11-4 run with a layup to make it a 65-55 game with just under nine minutes to go.
The rest of the game saw the Grizzlies take exceptional care of the ball and slow the game down with their half-court offense. Earlham would get no closer than six points the rest of the day and the Grizzlies would put the game well out of reach by scoring their last 17 points of the game at the free throw line.
Matt Krause recorded his third double-double of the year with 12 points and 11 rebounds. The West Lafayette, Ind.-native has reached double figures in each of the last five games. Payton Mills added 11 points off the bench and Gutierrez had 10 points to go along with six assists and a career-high five blocks.
Both teams finished the night with 30 rebounds while Earlham held a slim 13-12 edge in the turnover battle. However, Franklin would do a better job taking advantage of their opponent's mistakes, recording 18 points off turnover to 13 for the Quakers.
Next up for the Grizzlies is a Monday (Feb. 4) night meeting with the Manchester Spartans. Tip-off from the Spurlock Center is set for 7:30 p.m.