DEFIANCE, Ohio – The Franklin men's basketball team showed little rust following a long layoff, riding a sizzling shooting effort to an 83-64 win over Defiance on Saturday (Jan. 4) afternoon.
The Grizzlies (7-4, 3-1 HCAC) knocked down 15 three-pointers and shot 49.2% (31-for-63) from the field to notch their fourth straight victory and third straight conference win. Borden Kennedy had a team-high 18 points for Franklin, who shut down a second half rally from the Yellow Jackets (7-4, 2-2 HCAC) and pulled away late.
"You always hold your breath after a long holiday layoff and getting back into the swing of things," Head coach Kerry Prather said. "Fortunately, we were able to have some productive practices and transferred that over to today. I thought we defended well from start to finish and got after it on the glass. Defiance makes you prove yourself from three and we knew we were going to have to shoot it well. It was a really good road win and those are tough to come by in this league."
Franklin wasted no time using the three-pointer to their advantage, with six of their first seven field goals coming from long range to give the guests a 20-14 lead with 13:48 to go in the first half. Defiance would answer with seven straight points over the next minute, taking what would be their final lead of the day at 21-20 with 12 minutes to play in the opening half.
The Grizzlies responded to the Jackets' run by knocking down six more threes before the end of the half, flipping the momentum and giving Franklin a 48-31 lead going into the locker room. Those 12 threes and 66.7% first half shooting percentage from long range are both season-highs for one half of play.
The second half saw the Grizzlies pick up where they left off, knocking down a trio of threes in the first six-plus minutes of the half, the last coming from Kale Morris to make it 62-42 with 13:45 left in the game. But the Grizzlies would struggle from the floor over the next seven minutes and the Yellow Jackets would claw back to within striking distance, cutting the Franklin lead to 69-58 with 6:18 to play.
Franklin's effort on the defensive end ensured the Yellow Jackets wouldn't get any closer, holding Defiance to just three field goals for the remainder of the game. Down on the offensive end, the Grizzlies notched their final 14 points either in the paint or at the free throw line.
Kale Morris and Sam Gutierrez had 14 points and knocked down four three-pointers each. Matt Krause added 12 points and Payton Mills had 11 points to give all five starters double-digit point totals. Franklin shot 49.2% (31-for-63) from the floor and 51.7% (15-for-29) from long range while holding a 32-30 edge on the glass.
Conference play resumes this coming Wednesday (Jan. 8) night, when the Grizzlies welcome the Transylvania Pioneers to the Spurlock Center. The opening tip is set for 7:30 p.m.