TERRE HAUTE, Ind. – The Franklin men's basketball team hit the road on Wednesday (Feb. 6) night, heading west to take on the Engineers of Rose-Hulman in search of their fifth straight win.
The Grizzlies (8-14, 6-9 HCAC) fell into an early hole, conceding the first 12 points of the games and trailed by 18 points at the break. But the second half was a completely different story, as Franklin clawed their way back into the game thanks to strong play at both ends of the floor, tying things up late in the game. However, the comeback came up short as the Engineers (15-7, 11-4 HCAC) scored the go-ahead bucket in the final seconds to hold on for a 67-65 win.
"It was a tale of two halves tonight," Franklin head coach Kerry Prather said. "We learned in the first half we have to take care of our own offensive possessions. We didn't give ourselves a chance to be very hard to guard in the first half. At the other end, we gave them too many chances. The second half was the opposite. We took better shots and we made better decisions on offense. We played with unreal discipline for the entire second half. It wasn't a win, but we showed amazing mental toughness in the second half. "
The Engineers came out firing on offense while Franklin struggled to get going with Rose jumping out to a double-digit lead less than four minutes into the game. Rose would hold on to their double-figure lead for the rest of the first half, closing out the opening 20 minutes with a 9-2 run to take a 39-21 lead into the break.
The second half would prove much more fruitful for Franklin, as the Grizzlies would start to chip away at the Engineer lead immediately and pull within single digits at 49-40 following a pair of Jordan Anderson free throws with 12:23 to go. In the span of five minutes, the Engineer lead had been chopped down to one possession when Sam Gutierrez capped a 12-2 run with a layup that made it 55-52 Rose with just over seven minutes to play.
Franklin would tie the game for the first time with 4:20 to play following a Payton Mills layup that evened the game at 59. Four straight points from the hosts restored a slim lead, but Franklin would draw even with 10 seconds to go in the game after Borden Kennedy knocked down one-of-two free throws to tie the game at 65.
But the Engineers made the most of their final look, as Craig McGee's layup with two seconds to go proved to be the deciding bucket. Franklin had one last look at the win, but Kale Morris' three at the buzzer was off the mark.
Kennedy finished with a team-high 13 points and was joined in double figures by Morris with 12 points and Matt Krause with 11 points. Franklin shot 47.5 percent (26-for-55) from the floor, going 7-for-20 from three and 6-for-9 at the line. Defensively, the Grizzlies limited the Engineers to 42.1 percent (24-for-57) from the floor with Rose going 3-for-15 from three and 16-for-19 at the line.
Mills finished with a team-high eight rebounds and Gutierrez handed out five assists to tie for the most among all players. Both teams took exceptional care of the ball, with the Engineers holding a 9-8 edge in the turnover battle.
Franklin is back in action on Saturday (Feb. 9), heading to Cincinnati, Ohio to take on Mount St. Joseph University in their final road contest of the year. Tip-off is set for approximately 3:00 p.m.