RICHMOND, Ind. – The Franklin College women's basketball team looked to get back in the win column on Saturday afternoon, taking on Earlham College in a critical conference showdown.
Down by as many as 13 points in the second half, the Grizzlies (6-14, 5-9 HCAC) stormed back to pull within one score late in the ball game. But the rally fell just short as Earlham (5-16, 5-9 HCAC) closed out the Grizzlies for a 64-58 win, creating a four-way tie for the sixth spot in the conference.
Franklin jumped out to an early 11-6 lead, forcing an Earlham timeout with five minutes to go in the first quarter following a three from Maddie O'Day. But the Grizzly offense dried up over the final five minutes of the quarter, allowing Earlham to close out the period on a 12-2 run to take an 18-13 lead after 10 minutes.
The Quaker lead climbed to nine early in the second quarter, but Franklin would get back within a pair after back-to-back layups from Bayleigh Walker made it 26-24 Quarters with four minutes left in the half. However, the go-ahead basket wouldn't fall for the Grizzlies, and they headed into the locker room at the half down 33-27.
Earlham opened the second half with a 7-0 run to stretch their lead to double figures for the first time. The third quarter proved to be a critical stretch, as Earlham out-scored the Grizzlies 18-11 in the period to take a 51-38 lead into the final quarter of play.
The lead stayed in double figures until the 7:39 mark of the final quarter, when Bradley converted on a three-point play to bring the Grizzlies within 55-47. That sparked the Franklin offense, starting an 11-3 run to bring Franklin within three at 58-55 with 4:38 to play.
After almost three scoreless minutes, Walker buried a deep three to cut the lead to 60-58 with one minute to go. But Earlham answered with a bucket and the Grizzlies' final attempts came up short.
The Grizzlies shot 39.2 percent (20-for-51) from the field on Saturday, going 3-for-9 from three-point range and 15-for-20 from the free throw line. Earlham shot 40.6 percent (26-for-64) from the field, getting 36 of their points in the paint to just 16 for Franklin.
Franklin continues a two-game road swing this coming Wednesday (Feb. 7) night, heading to Terre Haute, Ind. for a showdown with HCAC-leading Rose-Hulman. The Engineers are currently 14-0 in league play and winners of 16 straight games.
Tip-off is set for 7:30 p.m.