For the Daily Journal
Franklin shrugged off a slow start then survived a late rally to beat Manchester 73-67 in men’s college basketball Wednesday at the Spurlock Center.
The Grizzlies (3-9, 2-3 HCAC), who had lost four straight and had not won in nearly a month, trailed 27-15 after a first 10 minutes in which Franklin could do little right.
But the Grizzlies closed the first half on a 26-9 run to take a five-point lead into the break and built on that advantage in the second half, leading by as many as 13 before Manchester roared back.
Story continues below gallery
The Spartans used a frantic 21-6 run to seize a 65-63 lead with 4:37 to play before Franklin recovered, scoring 10 of the final 12 points to claim the win.
“Those downturns are the road map of where we’ve been. Tonight we weathered that storm, and we weathered it three times,” said Franklin coach Kerry Prather. “We tend to panic a little bit and make some hurried decisions, but we didn’t do that tonight.”
Kyle Meyer kept Franklin in the game in the first half. The a 6-foot-5 sophomore from Milan, who entered the game averaging just 4.1 points per game, came off the bench to score 12 points before halftime as the Grizzlies mounted their comeback.
Borden Kennedy kicked off Franklin’s rally with a 3-pointer and Meyer scored all 12 of his points over that span as the Grizzlies first caught Manchester, then went ahead. Sam Gutierrez put the Grizzlies ahead for good with a layup, and they rolled from there.
As Franklin was warming up, Manchester was cooling off. The Spartans (2-10, 0-5 HCAC) could do little right after that first 10 minutes, and their issues continued well into the second half. After hitting 10 of its first 15 shots from the floor, Manchester shot just 28 percent the rest of the game.
But the Spartans nearly pulled out the win after Franklin itself went cold. A huge 3-pointer by Kale Morris, though, kept the Grizzlies alive, and seven points down the stretch and a pair of blocks in the final 30 seconds by John Beineke sealed the win.
Franklin ended up shooting 46 percent (27 for 59) for the game and dominated the rebounding 51-33. Meyer’s career-high 18 points led the way for the Grizzlies, while Danny Goggans added 17 points and 10 rebounds and Beineke scored 15.
“Kyle is just getting better by the hour. We’ve not had a player make more progress since high school than Kyle,” Prather said of Meyer. “Kyle is going to be really, really good. I’ve got a lot of confidence in him.”
Adrian Johnson scored 27 points for Manchester to lead all scorers, and Justin Lukens added 10.
Franklin heads to conference frontrunner Mount St. Joseph (Ohio) on Saturday as part of a men’s-women’s doubleheader.