BLUFFTON, Ohio – The Franklin College women's basketball team traveled to the Sommer Center on Saturday (Feb. 17) afternoon to take on the Bluffton Beavers in the team's regular season finale.
In her final career regular season game, senior Kelsey Smith came off the bench to score a career-high 24 points for the Grizzlies (7-17, 6-12 HCAC). But the Grizzlies couldn't slow down a Bluffton (19-6, 14-4 HCAC) offense that knocked down half of its field goals as Franklin suffered a 98-82 defeat.
The loss leaves Franklin in a three-way tie with Manchester and Mount St. Joseph for the final spot in the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference (HCAC) Tournament.
Both teams got off to a great start from the floor with Bluffton opening up a 10-6 lead through the opening three minutes of the game. But the Grizzly offense would cool off for the remainder of the first quarter while the Beaves remained hot from the floor. Bluffton went 5-for-6 from behind the three-point line in the opening period and led 26-12 after 10 minutes of play.
Bluffton's lead would grow to as many as 18 in the second quarter. Bluffton shot just over 50 percent from the floor and knocked down eight threes in the opening half to take a 46-31 lead into the half.
Freshman Bayleigh Walker caught fire in the third quarter, going 3-for-4 from behind the three-point line and a perfect 4-for-4 from the free throw line for 13 points over six minutes in the third period. The Grizzlies had their best period of the day with 27 points, but still trailed 72-58 heading into the fourth.
The Grizzlies had another successful quarter shooting the ball in the fourth, going 8-for-14 from the floor and knocking down four three-pointers. But Franklin couldn't get the lead down to single digits as the Beavers closed out the season sweep.
Walker finished with 15 points and Ashlin Aycock poured in 13 points for the Grizzlies on Saturday. Franklin shot 43.9 percent (29-for-66) from the floor, knocking down a season-high 10 three-pointers and going 14-for-17 from the free throw line.
Walker led the Grizzlies with five rebounds as Bluffton held a 41-32 advantage on the glass. The Beavers held a 13-10 edge in turnovers and a 20-7 advantage in points off turnovers.
The Grizzlies will have to wait until the results of the three-team tie-breaker to find out whether or not they qualified for the HCAC Tournament. The team that gets the sixth-seed will take on third-seeded Bluffton on Wednesday night. Start time will be announced on Sunday.