FRANKLIN, Ind. – Led by a career night from freshman guard Isabella Ratliff, the Franklin College women's basketball team got an early Christmas present in the form of a win on Thursday (Dec. 21) night.
Ratliff poured in a career-high 24 points off the bench for the Grizzlies (3-5), who shook off a slow start and a vicious Albion (7-3) press to earn a 69-63 comeback win inside the Spurlock Center. The Fairland, Ind.-native went 8-for-13 from the floor and 6-for-8 from three-point range, leading the charge as Franklin snapped a two-game skid.
"This win feels really good," Ratliff said with a smile. "We had been in a bit of a slump so it was big to get this one. We played really well as a team. My shot felt good tonight and credit to our guards who did a great job drawing in defenders and allowing me to get open."
"It took a total team effort to win this game," Head coach Dana Haggenjos added. "We fell behind early and everyone dug in to get us back in the game. We got a spark off the bench with Isabella and with Kelsey (Smith) giving us big minutes. Albion usually creates havoc for whoever they play because of their press, and we handled it well after it gave us fits early. In the end, we got a good win over a really good team."
The Britons used their vaunted press to open an 11-2 lead five minutes into the game. Momentum would soon swing in the Grizzlies favor when Ratliff entered the game and knocked down three straight three-pointers, capping an 11-0 run that put the Grizzlies in front for the first time. Albion would hold Franklin scoreless for the final three minutes of the first quarter, taking a 17-13 lead into the second period.
The first part of the second quarter was all Grizzlies, as Franklin opened up their largest lead of the game after a 15-2 run that made it 28-19 with five minutes left in the first half. Albion would answer with a big run of their own, out-scoring the Grizzlies 12-2 over the final five minutes to take a 31-30 lead into the break.
The Britons wasted no time opening up an eight-point lead out of the intermission, but Franklin would wiggle their way back into the game. Ratliff added 10 points for the Grizzlies in the third quarter, but Albion would hold a slim 50-49 edge heading into the final period.
The back-and-forth continued early in the fourth quarter before the Grizzlies took the lead for good on a three-point play by Taylor Baxter that made it 54-52 with a little less than eight minutes to go. Up by a pair with less than a minute to play, Ratliff put the game out of reach with her sixth triple of the night to make it 65-60 with 30 seconds left. The Grizzlies sealed the win by making each of their four free throws before the final horn.
Bayleigh Walker added 19 points and a team-leading eight rebounds for the Grizzlies. Franklin shot 44.4 percent (24-for-54) from the field, going 8-for-22 from long range and 13-for-19 at the line. The Grizzlies shared the ball all night long, assisting on 15 made buckets on the night. Kelsey Smith led all players with five dimes on the night.
Defensively, the Grizzlies limited Albion to 42.3 percent (22-for-52) shooting. The Britons went 8-for-18 from three and 11-for-21 at the line.
Rebounds were 40-31 in favor of Albion, with Walker's eight boards leading all Franklin players. The Grizzlies coughed the ball up just 15 times on the night, setting a new season-low in the turnover category.
The Grizzlies will have eight days off for the holiday break before heading to Columbus, Ohio on Dec. 29 for day one of the Capital Holiday Tournament where the Grizzlies will battle Kenyon College. Tip-off is set for 5:00 p.m.