NORTH MANCHESTER, Ind. – Conference play resumed for the Franklin men's basketball team on Wednesday (Jan. 2), as the Grizzlies opened the new year with a trip north to take on the Manchester Spartans.
The Grizzlies (4-8, 2-3 HCAC) got a season-high 23 points from junior guard Kale Morris, who went 7-for-13 from the floor, 3-for-6 from deep and a perfect 6-for-6 from the line. Franklin would trim a double-digit halftime deficit down to as little as six in the second half, but were unable to usurp the Spartans (5-7, 2-3 HCAC) in a 96-86 defeat.
Franklin opened the game with back-to-back threes from Morris and Jordan Anderson to take the early lead. Manchester battled back to even things up shortly after, but the Grizzlies responded with a 9-2 run that spanned four minutes and led 19-12 with 12 minutes to go in the first half.
Manchester countered with a 16-2 run over the next 3:30 to take their first lead of the night at 28-21 with 8:30 to go before the break. The hosts would stretch their lead to double figures before the halftime horn sounded, as the Grizzlies faced a 50-37 deficit after 20 minutes of play.
Two quick Franklin buckets to start the second half cut the deficit to single digits and following a Borden Kennedy layup six minutes into the period, the Grizzlies found themselves down but just four at 57-53. But another Manchester run followed, as the Spartans rattled off 10 straight points to make it 67-53 with 11:29 to go in the game.
But the Grizzlies got right back in the thick of things following a timeout, scoring 10 of the game's next 12 points to get back within striking distance. Morris buried his second triple of the night with 7:41 to play, cutting the Spartan lead to 74-68. But the rally would fall short as the Spartans were able to pull away down the stretch.
Morris was joined in double figures by Sam Gutierrez, who added 12 points to go with five assists and three steals, both team-highs. Anderson and Matt Krause had 11 points each for Franklin, with the team shooting 39.1 percent (27-for-69) on the evening. Payton Mills came off the bench and finished with a season-high eight points.
Franklin dominated the game on the glass, out-rebounding the Spartans at a 43-30 clip. The Grizzlies hauled in a season-high 23 offensive boards that turned into 19 second chance points. Danny Goggans grabbed nine rebounds to lead the team, followed by seven from Krause and six from Morris.
The Grizzlies look to bounce back on Saturday (Jan. 5) afternoon, when they step onto the Spurlock Center floor for the first time in 2019. Franklin welcomes Mount St. Joseph to town with tip-off set for approximately 3:00 p.m.