Balanced Grizzlies get by Manchester

The Franklin College men’s basketball team put in another efficient effort on both ends of the court en route to a 79-74 win against Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference rival Manchester on Wednesday night.

The Grizzlies were coming off their finest performance of the season Saturday in upsetting league-leading Mount St. Joseph.

Good habits tend to carry over, and they did just that against the visiting Spartans.

In a slow-paced first half, neither team could find the necessary rhythm, with the game tied four times in the early going.

But a conventional 3-point play by sophomore guard Robbie Prather seemed to flip the switch for Franklin College.

With an effective inside game, Franklin freshman center Jim Mace dropped in 11 points in the first half, with all five buckets coming inside the paint.

Prather knocked down a 3-pointer to push the Grizzlies’ lead to 41-29, their biggest advantage of the game.

Prather had 12 first-half points, and sophomore guard Aaron Mann dropped in 14 to give Franklin College a 43-31 lead at the break.

As well as Franklin played in the opening 20 minutes, two quick baskets by junior Matt Brown started a Manchester rally.

The Spartans (5-13, 4-7 HCAC) went on a 13-3 run to close the gap to 46-44. Sophomore guard Trae Washington hit a 3-pointer for Franklin for the Grizzlies’ first basket of the second half.

Moments later, with both teams trading baskets, Washington drained another 3-pointer and coupled that with a fast-break layup off of a steal to give Franklin a 55-48 advantage with 10 minutes remaining.

Bolstered by the hot shooting hand of sophomore guard Chase Casteel, who finished with a game-high 26 points, the Spartans stayed closed the rest of the way.

Down by one, Brown hit a fall-away 3-pointer to give Manchester a two-point edge, 63-61, but in the excitement of the comeback, Brown was assessed with a technical for excessive celebration.

Mann hit both free throws to tie the game at 63-all.

A layup by Mace and two more free throws by Mann put the Grizzlies on top to stay at 67-63.

From that point, Mace and freshman forward John Beineke used Franklin’s inside game to secure the victory.

Mann topped all Grizzlies’ scorers with 22 points, while Mace and Washington each had 17. Prather finished with 14 points.

The Grizzlies shots 53.8 percent from the floor (28-52) compared to Manchester’s 42.2 percent (27-64).

Each team had 34 rebounds.

Franklin (5-13, 4-7 HCAC) looks for its third straight victory at HCAC rival Anderson on Saturday.