FRANKLIN, Ind. – The Franklin College women's basketball team tipped off the 2017-18 Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference (HCAC) slate on Saturday afternoon, taking on the Hanover Panthers inside the Spurlock Center.
Down by double digits in the fourth quarter, the Grizzlies (0-3, 0-1 HCAC) came storming back to get within a bucket late. But Franklin couldn't find the go-ahead field goal as Hanover (4-2, 1-0 HCAC) got out of town with a 66-59 win.
Freshman Bayleigh Walker recorded her first career double-double, setting new career highs with 18 points and 19 rebounds. Kelsey Smith added 14 points and Erin Bradley chipped in with 13 for Franklin, who remains in search of their first win of the year.
"We struggled handling their pressure throughout the game," Head coach Dana Haggenjos said. "You can't have 20 turnovers in a game and have positive outcome. Hanover is a team that if one person gets hot, they all do. Hats off to them. They executed their game plan, and we couldn't get the defensive stops we needed down the stretch. "
Early on, the Grizzlies' defense caused fits for Hanover, sparking an 11-2 FC run to open the game as the Panthers missed their first 10 shots of the game. Hanover turned to their full-court press to get back in the game, holding Franklin scoreless over the final three minutes of the first quarter while the HC offense closed the gap to 11-9.
The two sides traded four leads in the second quarter before a 9-4 Hanover run to close out the second quarter gave the Panthers a 29-22 lead at the intermission.
Smith opened the second half with a triple to bring the Grizzlies within four, but that was as close as Franklin would get to the Panthers in the third period. When the quarter ended, Hanover had their largest lead of the night at 48-37.
Hanover's lead would grow to as many as 14 early in the fourth, but the Grizzlies kept battling and cut the lead in half after a pair of free throws from Smith made it 56-49 with 4:40 to play. Hanover's lead would continue to shrink and Bradley brought the Grizzlies within 61-59 with 21 seconds to play following a jumper.
Claire Cromer would go 1-for-2 at the line the next time down the floor for Hanover, giving the Grizzlies a chance to tie the game in the waning seconds. Franklin would get two looks at the tying three, but each shot was off the mark, allowing Hanover to sink four straight free throws to end the game.
Franklin shot 40.3 percent (25-for-62) from the floor on Saturday afternoon, going 2-for-15 from long range and 7-for-12 from the free throw line. The Grizzly defense held Hanover to 36.8 percent (21-for-57) on the day as Hanover went 6-for-16 from three and 18-for-32 at the line.
Both teams grabbed 41 rebounds on the night. Hanover forced 22 Franklin turnovers while committing 21 giveaways on the day. Hanover held a 27-15 advantage in points off turnovers while Franklin out-scored the Panthers in the paint, 38-24.
Franklin looks to get in the win column this coming Wednesday (Dec. 6), when they welcome Anderson University to town for another HCAC showdown. Tip-off from the Spurlock Center is set for 7:30 p.m.