DEFIANCE, Ohio – Thanks to another balanced scoring attack and big second half run aided by the long ball, the Franklin College men's basketball team made it back-to-back wins with an 87-75 win over Defiance, completing a season sweep of the Yellow Jackets.
For the second straight game, six Grizzlies (6-13, 4-8 HCAC) reached double figures, led by 16 points each from Payton Mills and Kale Morris. Mills added 10 boards for his second straight double-double and was joined in that category by freshman Matt Krause following a 12-point, 10-rebound effort. The game's turning point came late in the second half, when Franklin rang in 15 straight points to send the host Yellow Jackets (2-17, 0-12 HCAC) to defeat.
"Getting two road wins this week is just what we needed," Head coach Kerry Prather said following the win. "Our defense has been great and the last two times out, we've knocked down shots when we've needed to, and we've taken better care of the ball down the stretch. We're playing short-handed a bit with our rotation and our guys have responded to logging more minutes. Tonight was no different."
Neither team could gain any separation in the opening 10 minutes of the game, as Franklin and Defiance exchanged the lead seven times and recorded six ties. With the score tied at 20, the Yellow Jackets rattled off a 7-0 run to take their biggest lead of the night, but the Grizzlies answered with seven straight points of their own to draw even. Back-to-back jumpers from Morris closed out the half and spotted the Grizzlies a 42-39 lead after 20 minutes of play.
The game remained tight for the opening half of the second, as every time one side knocked down a bucket, the other responded and neither team led by more than three points heading into the final 10 minutes of play. But the tide would turn over a five-minute stretch that saw Franklin go on the game-deciding run while stifling the Yellow Jackets at the other end. When Jordan Anderson knocked down a three on Franklin's third straight trip down the floor, Franklin held their largest lead of the night at 72-57 with 5:30 left.
Defiance got back within single digits with three minutes to go, but wouldn't get any close than nine the rest of the way. Franklin sealed the game with numerous stops on defense and eight straight free throws to put the game away on the offensive end.
Joining the party in double figures were a trio of Grizzly guards in Sam Gutierrez, Anderson and Borden Kennedy. Gutierrez netted 15 points and handed out a team-high five assists. Anderson went 5-of-8 shooting and 3-for-4 from three to finish with 13 points while Kennedy added 12 points while playing a season-high 35 minutes.
Franklin shot 51.5 percent (34-for-66) from the field, going 10-for-21 from three and 9-for-10 at the line. The Grizzlies held Defiance to 43.9 percent (29-for-66) from the field and held a sizeable 42-22 advantage in the rebounding battle.
Next up for the Grizzlies is a return trip to the Spurlock Center this coming Wednesday (Jan. 30), when they line up against the Manchester Spartans in search of their third straight win. Tip-off from the Spurlock Center is set for 7:30 p.m.