CINCINNATI, Ohio – Playing their final road game of the regular season, the Franklin College men's basketball team put together a sterling 40-minute effort to earn a 72-54 win over Mount St. Joseph on Saturday (Feb. 9) afternoon.
Four Grizzlies (9-14, 7-9 HCAC) reached double figures on Saturday afternoon as Franklin won for the fifth time in their last six contests. Payton Mills had a team-high 18 points, leading an offensive attack that shot 54.4 percent (31-for-57) from the floor while holding the Lions (7-15, 5-12 HCAC) to 37.9 percent (22-for-58) shooting, holding off a second half charge from the hosts to record their third conference road win in their last four trips away from home.
The Grizzlies took control of the game early in the first half, jumping out to a 15-9 lead with 11:35 left in the opening half after a 9-3 run that spanned four minutes. The Grizzlies cranked up the pressure on defense to extend the lead to double digits, eventually taking a 34-21 lead into the locker room at halftime.
Offensively, the Grizzlies shot 48.4 percent from the field in the opening 20 minutes with the defense putting the clamps on the Lions, holding the hosts to just 31 percent from the field. Mills had 14 points in the opening half, leading all scorers when the two sides broke for intermission.
The Grizzlies carried the momentum of a big first half into the second, extending the lead to a game-high 20 points less than three minutes into the final half. Franklin out-scored the Lions 14-7 over the first 2:36 of the second half, making it a 48-28 game with just over 17 minutes to play.
But the lead would slowly start to chip away as the Lions started knocking down threes while Franklin struggled to get shots to fall. Over an 11-minute span, The Mount went on a 21-9 run to get back within single digits at 57-49 with six minutes left on the clock. But Franklin shook off that stretch and closed strong, holding the Lions to two field goals over for the rest of the night, polishing off a critical conference road win.
Borden Kennedy turned in a strong performance with 15 points and a game-high six assists while logging a season-high 38 minutes. Kale Morris and Matt Krause added 14 points each, as the Franklin starting lineup accounted for all but two of the team's points on Saturday. By knocking down more than half of their shots on Saturday, the Grizzlies have no surpassed 50 percent from the floor in five of their last six contests as well.
The Grizzlies held a 35-28 edge on the glass with Mills and Krause grabbing seven boards each to lead the way. Franklin finished with a 30-20 edge on points in the paint, and their seven turnovers were a single-game low for the season to date.
Next up for the Grizzlies is the first of two straight home games to close out the regular season. Franklin welcomes Transylvania University to the Spurlock Center on Wednesday (Feb. 9) night, with tip-off set for 7:30 p.m.