A fast start and an even stronger finish enabled visiting Transylvania to win its sixth consecutive game in defeating the Franklin College women’s basketball team 72-52 on Wednesday night at the Spurlock Center.
With the win, the Pioneers remain one game back in the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference standings behind Bluffton and Rose-Hulman.
The Grizzlies, meanwhile, dropped their second straight league contest and fall to 6-7 overall and 4-3 in the conference.
Transylvania jetted out to a 9-0 lead in the opening minutes on the dominant inside play of 6-foot junior forward Rachel Cox.
The Pioneers pushed their lead to 22-10 by the end of the first quarter.
A barrage of 3-pointers by the Pioneers, namely by guards Celia Kline and Kristen Hayes, made it 31-18. But before the half ended, the Grizzlies made a nice run that included a three-point play by senior Mandy Fisher, a triple by senior Lauren DeSutter and a putback layup by senior center Emily Alfrey. That surge got Franklin within three points at 31-28.
A buzzer-beating 3-pointer by Macey Ford gave the Pioneers a 34-28 lead at the break.
Franklin got significant help off the bench, which contributed 15 points in the first half.
The Grizzlies kept the pressure on in the opening minutes of the third quarter, when senior Kayle Comer knocked down a 3-pointer and DeSutter maneuvered her way into the paint for an unobstructed layup to pull Franklin within two points at 37-35.
But Cox hit a layup for the Pioneers and then converted on a pair of free throws before the visitors got two more 3-pointers by Kline, who finished with five triples and a game-high 19 points. The stretched the lead to 49-40 at the end of the third quarter.
The Pioneers (11-3, 5-2) kept the hot hand in the final period, going away with the victory.
Cox finished with 16 points and Kristen Hayes added 12. Transylvania outrebounded Franklin 44-28, grabbing 19 offensive boards.
For Franklin, Comer led the way with 10 points off the bench, including two 3-pointers. DeSutter was next with nine points, and Fisher and Erin Bradley each had seven.
The Grizzlies travel to HCAC rival Anderson on Saturday.