LEXINGTON, Ky. – The Franklin men's basketball team tipped off the final week of their regular season on Wednesday (Feb. 14) night with the Grizzlies heading south to take on Transylvania University.
Sophomore Kale Morris had a career night for the Grizzlies (8-16, 7-10 HCAC), pouring in a career-high 25 points on 10-for-14 shooting, matching a season-high with five three-pointers. But the Pioneers (17-7, 7-10 HCAC) rallied in the second half thanks to an offense that connected on 62.1 percent (18-for-29) of their field goals over the final 20 minutes for a 73-62 win.
Early on, it was the Grizzlies that came out with the hot hand. Franklin opened the game on a 7-2 run and saw their lead grow to double figures when a Sam Gutierrez three capped a 12-2 run to make it 24-11 Grizzlies with 10:39 left in the first half.
Transy would pull to within five points with seven minutes to go in the first half, but the Grizzlies would close out the opening 20 minutes strong and take a 40-29 lead into the intermission.
The Grizzlies shot 45.9 percent (17-for-37) from the field in the opening 20 minutes, racking up 12 second-chance points on nine offensive rebounds.
The Pioneers wasted no time chipping away at the lead after the break, opening up the period with a 9-2 run to cut the Franklin lead to 42-38 just two minutes into the second half. Following a timeout on the floor, the Grizzlies extended their lead back to double digits with a 7-0 run that made it a 52-42 game with 14:25 to play.
But the iron would not be kind to the Grizzlies for the remainder of the game, as Franklin struggled from the field for the rest of the night. Franklin would go 4-for-21 from the field over the remainder of the game while the Pioneers caught fire. Transylvania rattled off a 15-2 run to take a 57-54 lead with eight minutes to go and rode the momentum from that run to pull away down the stretch.
Franklin shot 38.8 percent (26-for-67) from the field on the night, going 7-for-22 from three-point range and 3-for-9 from the free throw line. Morris was joined in double figures by Jordan Anderson and Gutierrez, who finished with 11 and 10 points, respectively.
Rebounds were 37-34 in favor of the Grizzlies, with Gutierrez pulling down a career-high nine boards to lead all players. Gutierrez also handed out seven assists, also tops on the team.
The Grizzlies will hit the floor for their final regular season game on Saturday (Feb. 17) afternoon, heading to Bluffton, Ohio for a meeting with the Bluffton Beavers. The game will be a winner-take-all contest with the final spot in the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference (HCAC) tournament up for grabs.
Tip-off is set for approximately 4:00 p.m.