FRANKLIN, Ind. – After a week off, the Franklin College women's basketball team resumed play on Saturday (Dec. 16) afternoon, opening up a three-game homestand against the Bluffton Beavers in a Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference (HCAC) showdown.
Franklin (2-4, 2-2 HCAC) saw their brief two-game winning streak come to an end on Saturday afternoon, as Bluffton (6-1, 3-0) used a big third quarter to pick up a 68-50 win over the Grizzlies.
Bayleigh Walker led the Grizzlies with 15 points, the fourth time this season the freshman forward has led Franklin in scoring. Macey Sheerer led all players with 18 points for Bluffton, as the Beavers out-scored Franklin 23-9 in the third quarter to pull away.
Bluffton jumped out to an early 10-4 lead, but Franklin would cut the lead down to a single position thanks to consecutive baskets from Erin Bradley and Riley Achenbach. Bluffton's lead would balloon back to six late in the quarter, but Franklin closed out the opening period with baskets from Lindsay Freije and Melissa Beer to trim the Bluffton lead to 18-16 after 10 minutes.
Consecutive baskets from Bradley brought the Grizzlies within a point at 25-24 with 3:25 to go in the opening half. But Franklin would go cold the rest of the period, connecting on just one field goal before the end of the half, as Bluffton took a 31-26 lead into the break. All 10 Grizzlies to enter the game in the first half recorded at least one field goal.
The Grizzlies pulled within a pair at 36-34 after a Walker layup with 6:21 left in the third quarter, but the Beavers closed out the period with a 16-1 run, holding Franklin to 0-for-5 from the floor while forcing six turnovers to open up a 52-35 lead.
Franklin's scoring woes continued into the fourth quarter, allowing the Beavers to stretch their lead to as many as 22 points. Bluffton held the Grizzlies to just 5-for-17 shooting in the final period, allowing the visitors to close out the win.
The Grizzlies shot 37.9 percent (22-for-58) from the field on Saturday, going 1-for-11 from three-point range and 5-for-11 from the free throw line. The Beavers connected on 42.6 percent (26-for-61) of their field goals on the day, going 5-for-13 from three and 13-for-18 from the line.
Rebounds were 38-37 in favor of the Beavers. Bradley led all players with 11 rebounds, setting a new career-high in the process. Bluffton held a 21-16 advantage in the turnover battle, converting 30 points off Franklin mistakes.
With the first leg of conference play in the books, the Grizzlies will resume their non-conference schedule this coming Tuesday (Dec. 19) against Wittenberg University. Tip-off from the Spurlock Center is set for 6:00 p.m.