FRANKLIN, Ind. – The Franklin men's basketball team welcomed the Centre College Colonels to the Spurlock Center on Tuesday (Nov. 26) night for their final non-conference tune-up ahead of the first leg of conference play.
Franklin (3-3) fought back from 11 points down in the second half to pull within a point in the final seconds. But their comeback bid fell just short, as the Colonels (5-1) held off the hard-charging Grizzlies to escape with a 74-72 win.
"I was so proud about how we kept getting after it on the defensive end, converted what we earned on offense and gave ourselves a chance to win late," Head coach Kerry Prather said. "We defended really well throughout the game and we had one drought that allowed a really disciplined team to stretch the lead. But we put ourselves in a position to win and that's all you can ask of your players. We feel good about where we are heading into conference play."
Defense was the name of the game in the opening half, as each team forced their opponent to work for every bucket. Neither team held a lead larger than six points, but Franklin would head into the break leading 33-29 thanks to an 11-2 run to close out the opening half. The Grizzlies limited the Colonels to 39.3% (11-for-28) shooting in the opening half with Centre going 3-for-14 from deep.
Things remained tight early in the second half before the Grizzlies encountered a drought in which they knocked down just two field goals over a five-minute stretch, allowing the Colonels to take a 49-41 lead with 11:36 to play. Centre's lead climbed to its biggest of the game at 59-48 with 8:45 to go, forcing a timeout from the home bench.
Franklin slowly began to chip away at the Centre lead following the timeout, getting within four with two minutes to play. A Kale Morris three cut the deficit to 73-72 with nine seconds to go and after the Colonels knocked down one-of-two free throws on their next trip down the floor, Franklin had six seconds to work with for the last possession. But the ensuing trip down the floor didn't yield a shot before the final buzzer.
Six Grizzlies reached double figures on the night with Borden Kennedy, Payton Mills and Sam Gutierrez tying for the team lead with 12 each. Matt Krause and Jordan Anderson finished with 11 points a piece while Morris had 10 for a Grizzly team that shot 43.8% (28-for-64) from the floor, 31.8% (6-for-19) from three and 83.3% (10-for-12) from the line.
Krause led the team with seven board as Franklin finished the night with a 36-32 edge on the glass. Kennedy led all players with seven assists and four steals while Mills set a career-high with four blocked shots.
The Grizzlies are off for eight days before opening the HCAC schedule next Wednesday (Dec. 4) against defending conference champion Hanover on the road. Tip-off from Collier Arena is set for 7:30 p.m.