The outcome could have easily gone the other way.
But, a bounce here, a free throw there, and in the end, the Franklin College women’s basketball team pulled out a 65-64 win at Hanover on Tuesday night in the first round of the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference Tournament.
The Grizzlies (14-11) advance to a Friday semifinal at Rose-Hulman.
With a heavy emphasis on defense, the Grizzlies were in command and playing the way they wanted to play.
“We had energy from the get-go,” said Franklin coach Dana Haggenjos. “I think it helped that we were stuck on the interstate coming down for about an hour prior to the game. They got themselves ready on the bus and by the time we got here, we were ready to go.
“We also had a great first quarter, which usually has been our Achilles heel, and it was our defense that got us through the rest of the game.”
Leading at the end of the first stop and the half, the Grizzlies dictated the tempo against the Panthers, who preferred to push the ball in transition.
Down by the score of 41-36, Hanover finally made its run.
Hanover’s post trio of Allison Nash, Audrey Wetzel and Katie Hartman scored uncontested layups or got to the free-throw line to take a 46-43 lead. But before the third quarter ended, Franklin senior Kelsey Smith buried a 3-pointer to tie things up at 46-46.
The lead see-sawed back and forth in the final period before the 3-ball became Franklin’s best friend.
Senior center Emily Alfrey hit 3 of 4 from outside the arc and sophomore guard Riley Achenbach added three more triples that proved to be the difference.
With 1:18 left, Achenbach manuvered her way inside and hit a driving layup to put Franklin up to stay, 65-64.
On the next possession, Hanover freshman center Maleha Motter got to the free-throw line with 18 seconds remaining — but she missed both.
After a quick timeout, the Grizzlies milked the clock down to six seconds and then got to the line. However, Alfrey missed on both tries, giving the Panthers one more crack at it.
A desperation shot at the buzzer rimmed out, giving the Grizzlies the win.
Alfrey finished with a game-high 17 points while Achenbach added 15 and senior guard Mandy Fisher 14.