WESTERVILLE, Ohio – The Franklin men's basketball team tipped off the regular season on Saturday (Nov. 9) afternoon, taking on the Otterbein Cardinals in the first of four straight away from home to open the year.
Franklin (0-1) had all five starters reach double figures, led by a 20-point, 13-rebound effort from sophomore Matt Krause. The game featured six ties and four lead changes, but two late Cardinal (1-0) free throws proved to be the difference in an 86-84 Otterbein win.
In the early going, the Cardinals controlled the play, leading by as many as eight through seven minutes of action. Otterbein's lead grew to as many as 13 points at 39-26 with 7:15 to go in the opening half before Franklin roared back into the game with a strong close to the first half.
A 12-1 Grizzly run cut the host's lead to a pair with 3:30 to go in the half, setting the stage for what would ultimately be a 49-44 Franklin lead when the teams headed into the locker room for the break. Franklin went 8-for-10 from the floor over the final seven-plus minutes while holding the Cardinals to just one field goal during that time.
The Grizzlies held on to a multi-score lead early in the second half before stretching their advantage to a game-high 12 after a Jordan Anderson triple with 9:36 to play that made it 75-63. But the Grizzlies would struggle to knock down shots over the final 10 minutes and with 2:35 to go, the game was tied at 79 after an Otterbein three that capped a 16-4 run.
Payton Mills put the Grizzlies in front with two minutes to play with a layup but Otterbein answered with four straight points and led 84-82 in the final 30 seconds. Following a missed free throw, the Grizzlies executed the fast break to perfection, resulting in a Kale Morris layup that tied the game with 24 seconds to go.
Otterbein re-claimed the lead with eight seconds to go following a pair of free throws and Morris' last-second look at the tying bucket just missed out.
Sam Gutierrez had 19 points on the afternoon, knocking down a team-high four threes and finishing with a team-leading nine assists. Borden Kennedy (18), Morris (10) and Mills (10) also reached double-digits. Franklin shot 54.1% (33-for-61) from the floor, going 8-for-19 from three and 10-for-12 from the line. At the other end, the Grizzly defense held the Cardinals to 42.6% (29-for-68) from the field, but Otterbein's 20 free throws proved large. Rebounds were 38-32 in Franklin's favor with Krause leading all players on the glass.
The Grizzlies continue their season-opening road trip on Tuesday (Nov. 12) night, traveling to Greencastle, Ind. to take on the DePauw Tigers. Tip-off is set for 7:00 p.m.