FRANKLIN, Ind. – In the start of a three-game homestand, the Franklin women's basketball team faced off with Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference (HCAC) co-leader and winners of eight straight, the Transylvania Pioneers.
Right from the opening tip, the Grizzlies (5-11, 3-6 HCAC) matched the Pioneers (14-2, 8-1 HCAC) bucket for bucket and Franklin held a lead deep into the fourth quarter. Regulation wasn't enough to decide a winner and despite some heroics late in the extra session, the Grizzlies came up one point short in a 70-69 defeat.
Franklin controlled the game from the opening tip, jumping out to an early 6-0 lead. The defense would hold the Pioneers' high-powered offense in check for most of the quarter before a late surge brought Transylvania within 16-13 after 10 minutes of action.
The Pioneers tied the game on their first possession of the second half, but Franklin would follow with a 12-3 run, capped a Bayleigh Walker layup that made it 28-19 with 4:22 to go in the half. The defense continued to keep the Pioneers in check, but the offense came up with just one field goal the rest of the quarter and Franklin took a 30-26 lead into the break.
Much like the prior quarter, the third started out with a Transy three followed by a Franklin run that got the lead back to its largest of the night. Eight straight Grizzly points made it 38-29 with 6:20 showing on the third quarter clock. Both offenses caught fire late in the quarter and with 10 minutes to play, Franklin held a precarious 47-46 lead.
The Grizzlies would hold the Pioneers off until the 4:23 mark when a Celia Kline three gave the visitors their first lead of the game at 54-51. Another Transy three made it a four-point game with less than three minutes to go, but the Grizzlies valiantly fought back to take the lead late. Mallory Cast buried a three to bring the deficit to one and with six seconds left, Walker knocked down two free throws to give Franklin a 58-57 lead. But the Pioneers would earn a trip to the line with 3.3 seconds on the clock, netting one free throw and sending the game to overtime.
Back-to-back Pioneer threes mid-way through OT gave Transy a 64-60 lead, but Franklin answered with jumpers from Britney Ballard and Cast to tie the game with one minute to play. The Pioneers would add the next four points at the free throw line and led by three with 13 seconds to go when a Kristen Hayes free throw made it a 69-66 game. The Grizzlies got the game-tying bucket when Cast banked home a deep three with eight seconds left.
But the energy was sucked out of the Spurlock Center when a foul with 1.4 seconds left gifted the Pioneers two free throws. Ashton Woodard knocked down the first before missing the second, running out the clock on the rebound.
Cast had a brilliant night for the Grizzlies, setting new career highs with 22 points and 10 rebounds to record her first career double-double. Walker chipped in with 14 points and 13 boards for her fifth double-double of the season while Jessica Nix added 10 points before fouling out late in the game. Ashlin Aycock grabbed seven rebounds and tied a career-high with seven assists.
Franklin shot 48.4 percent (30-for-62) from the floor, going 4-for-10 from deep and 5-for-7 at the line. The Grizzly defense limited Transylvania to 29.3 percent (22-for-57) shooting, with the Pioneers going 11-for-43 from three and 15-for-23 from the line.
The Grizzlies resume their three-game homestand on Saturday (Jan. 19), when they welcome the Hanover Panthers to the Spurlock Center for Alumni Day. Tip-off is set for 2:00 p.m.