DEFIANCE, Ohio – The Franklin women's basketball team resumed Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference (HCAC) play on Saturday (Jan. 4) afternoon, taking on the Defiance Yellow Jackets in search of their third straight victory.
The Grizzlies (7-3, 3-1 HCAC) never trailed on the afternoon, leading the Yellow Jackets (3-8, 2-2 HCAC) by as many as 19 in the second half on their way to a 77-64 win. It was also the third consecutive conference win and now Franklin is off to their best 10-game stretch to open a season since 2015-16 when they also began the year 7-3.
Franklin's defense wasted no time causing chaos for the Yellow Jackets, forcing five turnovers in the opening three minutes and taking an 8-1 lead after a Jessica Nix Layup at the 7:03 mark. The Grizzlies would lead by as many as 10 in the opening period, holding Defiance to one field goal in the first eight minutes and led 16-9 after one quarter of play.
The Grizzlies held their largest lead of the first half following back-to-back buckets from Amy Davis that made it 31-16 with 3:12 to go in the half. But the Grizzlies went without a point for the remainder of the quarter, allowing the hosts to slice the deficit to 31-22 when the teams broke for halftime. The Grizzlies' defense was exceptional in the opening half, holding Defiance to 25% (7-for-28) from the floor and forcing 14 turnovers.
Coming out of the half, the Franklin offense took over with a dominant third quarter showing. The Grizzlies went 11-for-15 from the field and took their biggest lead of the day after a Taylor McDaniel layup made it 54-35 with 1:50 to go in the period and would hold a 58-39 edge going into the final quarter.
Defiance opened the final quarter with six straight points and trailed 60-48 with eight minutes to go. That proved to be as close as the hosts would get, as Franklin responded with seven straight points to put the contest out of reach.
Bayleigh Walker led all players with 18 points, scoring 16 in the second half to record her seventh straight game with at least 16 points. Franklin shot 49.2% (30-for-61) from the field, going 3-for-7 from deep and 14-for-19 from the floor. Defensively, Franklin held the Yellow Jackets to 32.8% (19-for-58) shooting and forced 26 turnovers that resulted in 29 Grizzly points.
Isabella Ratliff grabbed a team-high seven rebounds as Franklin finished with a 39-34 edge on the glass. Taylor McDaniel and Taylee Nibbs tied for the team lead with four assists each. Inside is where the Grizzlies did the bulk of their damage on offense, recording 44 points in the paint.
The Grizzlies are back in action on Wednesday (Jan. 8) night, heading to Lexington, Ky. to face off with the #15-ranked Transylvania Pioneers. Tip-off is set for 7:00 p.m.