FRANKLIN, Ind. – Playing the final contest of a three-game homestand, the Franklin College women's basketball team welcomed the Anderson Ravens to the Spurlock Center for the final meeting of the year between the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference (HCAC) rivals.
Down by double digits at halftime, the Grizzlies (5-13, 3-8 HCAC) fought all the way back to take the lead early in the fourth quarter. But the Grizzlies struggled to hold off a late surge from the Ravens (9-9, 5-6 HCAC), who led by as many as 10 in the final minute before holding on for a 72-69 win.
Senior Mallory Cast led the way for Franklin with 20 points on the night and was joined in double figures by Jessica Nix and Bayleigh Walker, who finished with 13 points each. But the Grizzlies struggled shooting the ball all night, knocking down just 32.9 percent (25-for-76) of their field goals as opposed to 42.2 percent (19-for-45) shooting from Anderson.
The two sides traded the lead six times in the opening quarter alone, but a long scoring Franklin scoring drought late in the first quarter loomed large. The Grizzlies netted just one field goal over the final four minutes of the opening period, allowing the Ravens to close the first with a 10-2 run and take a 20-13 lead into the second.
Anderson's lead reached double figures early in the second quarter, but Franklin would get back to within 26-21 midway through the period thanks to an 8-3 run. But just like the opening quarter, the offense would struggle to find the bucket the rest of the quarter, allowing the lead to grow to 34-23 when the teams broke for halftime.
The Raven lead would grow to it's biggest of the night at 37-25 early in the second half, but the Grizzlies would start to chip away at the deficit as the third quarter began to wind down. The Grizzlies out-scored Anderson 9-4 over the final five minutes of the quarter and headed into the final period down 46-42.
The Grizzlies opened the fourth quarter with an 8-0 run to take their first lead since early in the opening period. Anderson would battle back to take the lead and appeared to put the game out reach with a 13-4 run that spotted them a 70-60 lead with under a minute to go. But struggles at the line and three straight three pointers brought Franklin within three and after two misses, the Grizzlies had a look at the tying bucket at the horn, but Cast's game-tying attempt bounced off the rim and to the floor.
The Ravens did a large chunk of their damage at the line, going 30-for-40 at the stripe while Franklin was 16-for-23 on the night in free throws. Britney Ballard had a team-high seven rebounds for Franklin while the team finished the night with 13 steals against just 11 turnovers.
Franklin hits the road for the start of a two-game road trip on Saturday (Jan. 26), heading to Defiance, Ohio to take on the Defiance Yellow Jackets. Tip-off is set for 2:00 p.m.