Battle of women’s teams goes to Bluffton

Special to the Daily Journal

The Franklin College women’s basketball team dropped its first Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference contest of the season, losing a hard-fought contest 69-68 to Bluffton University on Saturday at Spurlock Center.

The matchup featured the last two undefeated teams in HCAC action after three December league games.

Senior Katie Brewer scored 17 points and had 12 rebounds to lead the Grizzlies. Freshman Maddie O’Day tallied a career-high 15 points and made all three of her shots from behind the arc.

Junior Lauren DeSutter added nine points, while juniors Emily Alfrey and Kayle Comer each scored eight points.

Franklin (7-4, 3-1 HCAC) led 22-12 after the first quarter and had a 39-29 halftime advantage behind 46.9 percent shooting.

Bluffton (11-0, 4-0 HCAC) connected on 24 of 27 free-throw attempts in the second half.

Overall, the Beavers made 35 of their 40 free throws in the contest. Bluffton went on a 12-0 run to take its first lead of the game, 61-59, after two free throws by Macey Sheerer with 2:54 left.

Franklin answered with a jumper by Brewer to square the contest. She later gave the hosts a 63-61 lead after converting a layup at the 2:09 mark.

Bluffton’s Kaitlyn Pennekamp made two free throws to tie the game with 1:57 remaining. The visitors took a 65-63 lead with 39 seconds left after a jumper by Sheerer. Following a Franklin turnover, Taylor Knight made two free throws with seven seconds left to extend the margin to 67-63.

Franklin got within two points at 67-65 after a layup by Brewer with five seconds remaining. Bluffton’s Knight once again made two free throws to secure the victory with five seconds left.

A 3-point field goal by DeSutter just before the buzzer brought the final margin to one point.