RECAP | Third Quarter Struggles Prove Costly in Loss to Bluffton

Photo courtesy of Chad Williams
Photo courtesy of Chad Williams

BLUFFTON, Ohio – The Franklin College women's basketball team wrapped up the opening part of Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference (HCAC) play on Saturday (Dec. 15) afternoon, taking on the Bluffton Beavers.

Franklin (2-6, 1-3 HCAC) was led by a career afternoon from freshman Destinee Cross, who set season highs with 14 points and eight rebounds coming off the bench. But a tough third quarter spelled trouble for the Grizzlies, allowing the Beavers (3-6, 2-2 HCAC) to open up a big lead on their way to a 69-52 win.

Consecutive buckets from Lindsay Freije in the early stages of the game put Franklin on top 6-4. Following a three-minute scoreless drought, the Grizzlies got back to even with an Emiley Carlton jumper that made it eight-all. Franklin held a lead late in the quarter following two Lillie Stein free throws, but a Beaver three-point play closed out the frame and made it 16-14 Bluffton after 10 minutes.

Bluffton held onto a lead until the 4:55 mark of the second quarter, when a layup from Isabella Ratliff knotted things up at 22. But the Grizzlies suffered another prolonged scoring drought down the stretch, going four minutes without a point and heading into the locker room trailing 32-25.

The Grizzlies' offensive struggles carried over into the second half and after a 13-3 Beaver run, the host's lead expanded to 47-32. Bluffton out-scored the Grizzlies 26-11 in the third quarter and held a 55-37 advantage going to the final period. Franklin won the scoring battle in the fourth quarter, but it wasn't enough to close the gap before the final horn.

Cross was joined in double figures by sophomore Bayleigh Walker, who netted 10 points on the night. Ashlin Aycock tied Cross for the team lead with eight boards, matching a career-high. Franklin shot 33.3 percent (20-for-60) from the field, going 1-for-7 from deep and 11-for-16 at the line.

Franklin held a 40-33 advantage on the glass, turning 14 offensive rebounds into 14 second-chance points. Turnovers and free throws played a major role in the Beavers' win, with Bluffton forcing 20 turnovers while committing just 16 on the night. The Beavers also went 24-for-31 at the charity stripe, making twice as many trips to the line than Franklin.

The Grizzlies are back on the road for their final game before the holiday break. Franklin heads to Michigan on Wednesday, Dec. 19 to take on the Britons of Albion College. Tip-off is set for 7:30 p.m.