FRANKLIN, Ind. – The Franklin College women's basketball team resumed Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference (HCAC) play on Wednesday (Jan. 2), welcoming the Manchester Spartans to the Spurlock Center for the team's first home game in almost a month.
The Grizzlies (4-8, 2-3 HCAC) used a late first quarter run to take a lead they would hold onto for the rest of the night. The ferocious Franklin defense held Manchester (2-10, 0-5 HCAC) to 33.9 percent (19-for-56) from the floor in grinding out a 74-63 win, the team's second straight victory.
"Our defense carried us tonight," Head coach Dana Haggenjos said after the win. "Manchester battles hard and they have kids that can shoot the ball. We did a great job tonight limiting them to just one possession almost every time down the floor. Everybody came ready to rebound and dig in on defense. You give yourself a chance to win every time you do that, and this was another great team win for us."
Manchester grabbed their only lead of the night in the opening minutes, but the Franklin defense was the story of the opening period. The Grizzlies held the Spartans to just two free throws over the final 8:46 of the opening period, ending the quarter with a 12-0 run to lead 17-6 after 10 minutes of play.
Franklin's offense would struggle in the second quarter, but the Grizzlies were able to rely on their defense to fluster the Spartans and hold on to their lead. Manchester shot just 24 percent (6-for-25) from the field in the opening half and the Grizzlies took a 27-21 lead into the locker room at the intermission.
The Grizzlies potted nine of the first 12 points to open the second half, stretching their lead to double figures for the first time at 36-24 following a Mallory Cast three-pointer. A 7-0 run later in the quarter extended the Franklin lead its largest of the night at 46-29. With 10 minutes to play, Franklin's lead sat at a comfortable 47-34.
With the defense carrying the Grizzlies through the first 30 minutes, the fourth quarter saw Franklin's offense put the game out of reach. The Grizzlies knocked down 11-of-15 field goals in the final quarter to stretch their lead and put the game out of reach.
Sophomore Bayleigh Walker scored 10 of her team-high 14 points in the final period and grabbed a season-high 15 rebounds for the Plainfield, Ind.-native's third double-double of the year. Cast and Jessica Nix added 13 points and Destinee Cross potted 12 points in support. The Grizzlies also got six assists from sophomore Isabella Ratliff, a new career-high for the Fairland, Ind.-native. Franklin shot 44.6 percent (25-for-56) on the night, going 3-for-13 from deep and 21-for-37 from the line.
The Grizzlies dominated the Spartans on the glass, winning the rebounding battle 50-31 and giving the team back-to-back games of 50 rebounds. Cast hauled in a season-high eight boards, followed by seven from Nix and six from Cross.
Franklin looks to make it three straight wins on Saturday (Jan. 5) afternoon, when they welcome the Mount St. Joseph Lions to the Spurlock Center for the first of two meetings between conference rivals. Tip-off from the Spurlock Center is set for 1:00 p.m.