FRANKLIN, Ind. – The Franklin College men's basketball team continued their strong stretch of play on Monday (Feb. 4) night, picking up an 85-78 win over the Manchester Spartans to stretch their winning streak to a season-high four games.
Once again, the Grizzlies (8-13, 6-8 HCAC) relied on the combination of a balanced scoring attack and a strong defensive effort to keep the Spartans (9-12, 6-8 HCAC) off balance and earn a split of the season series between the long-time conference rivals. Fresh off a career-best scoring outing, junior Borden Kennedy topped the Grizzlies with 21 points while grabbing eight rebounds and handing out a team-high six assists on the night.
Franklin halted the Manchester offense to 44.1 percent (30-for-68) shooting on the night, keeping the high-flying Spartan offense grounded thanks to a patient approach that limited Manchester's chances to get points in transition.
"The thing that jumps out at me is that we were really good defensively and did a really good job guarding one of the best players in the league in Adrian Johnson," Franklin head coach Kerry Prather noted after the game. "We showed a lot of composure tonight to shoot 56%, we didn't turn it over and we shot it well and that forced Manchester to grind out baskets instead of getting out in transition. We were able to maintain our lead late because we never got on our heels and we stayed disciplined."
Early on, it was the Spartans jumping out to the lead thanks to a quick-strike offense. But despite falling behind for most of the opening 10 minutes, Franklin would keep things close and never trail by more than four points. A Jordan Anderson three-pointer made it 21-18 with 9:28 to play in the first half, giving Franklin a lead they would cling to the rest of the opening period on their way to a 38-32 advantage at the break.
The lead the Grizzlies held on to for the final 10 minutes of the first half evaporated quickly when the second half started. Manchester came out of the break on fire from the floor, rattling off a 10-2 run to re-take the lead with an Adrian Johnson layup that made it 42-40 with 16:11 to play. But as quick as the Spartans took the lead, Franklin snatched it right back with a 10-3 run in response, capped by a Kennedy three-point play that made it a 50-45 game with 12:53 to go.
Franklin's lead reached double figures for the first time at 61-50 with 9:37 to play and would grow to as many as 14 down the stretch. Manchester got back within single digits in the final minute, but by then it was too late as the Grizzlies closed out one of their biggest wins of the year at the line.
For the third time in four games, six Grizzlies reached double figures on the night. Matt Krause recorded his second straight double-double with 16 points and 12 rebounds and was joined in double figures by Kale Morris (14 points), Sam Gutierrez (11 points), Payton Mills (11 points) and Jordan Anderson (10 points).
Franklin shot 55.9 percent (33-for-59) from the floor, going 6-for-14 from three and 13-for-20 from the line. The Grizzlies held a 40-32 advantage in the rebounding battle.
Next up for the Grizzlies is the first of two straight away from the Spurlock Center, which takes place on Wednesday (Feb. 6) night when Franklin travels to Terre Haute, Ind. to take on Rose-Hulman. Tip-off is set for 7:30 p.m.