With a balanced scoring attack, the Franklin College women’s basketball team defeated visiting Defiance 51-42 in the first round of the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference Tournament on Tuesday.
The Grizzlies (19-7) move on to the semifinals at conference regular-season champion Bluffton where they’ll play the tournament’s No. 2 seed, Rose-Hulman, at 8 p.m. Friday.
The victory against Defiance (8-18) was also the third time the Grizzlies defeated the Yellow Jackets this season.
In a slow-moving first half, the Grizzlies eased in front 11-4 in the opening quarter on the inside play of senior forward Katie Brewer and junior forward Emily Alfrey.
But from that point, the Grizzlies went nearly nine minutes without a field goal but still held on to a 26-20 halftime lead on late second-quarter shots by Brewer, Alfrey and sophomore guard Riley Achenbach.
The late quarter spurt by Franklin was also fueled by a technical foul against Defiance junior forward and leading scorer Kelsey Tietje, who averages 20.7 points per game.
The Grizzlies grabbed a 36-26 lead five minutes into the third quarter on a driving layup by junior guard Lauren DeSutter.
Up by the score of 41-31 at the close of the third period, Franklin held Defiance scoreless for the first five minutes of the final stanza.
Sophomore guard Kelsey Smith put the game out of reach with a reverse layup to give the Grizzlies their biggest lead of the game at 46-31.
Alfrey had a team-high 12 points to go with four rebounds and two assists.
“It was big for us to get in the post early because they had two big girls defending and they got in a little bit of foul trouble. Any time we can establish something down low, we always have a chance to kick it to our outside shooters when their defense collapses,” Alfrey said.
“Our crowd was phenomenal, and we know what we’ll be going up against Rose-Hulman at Bluffton.”
Brewer had a double-double with 10 points and 11 rebounds.
For Defiance, Tietje had a team-high 12 points and 15 rebounds.
Franklin won the rebounding battle 48-34.