Franklin College stepped back and stepped up Wednesday night in ending its 13-game losing streak to Rose-Hulman in men’s basketball.
The Grizzlies knocked down 14 3-pointers, including 10 in the second half, to defeat the league-leading Engineers 75-64.
With a spot in the upcoming Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference tournament still an uncertainty, coach Kerry Prather’s club did itself a huge favor improving to 7-8 in the standings. Franklin College is 8-14 overall.
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Prather, whose starting lineup consists of senior post John Beineke along with three sophomores and a freshman, knew Rose-Hulman’s series dominance wouldn’t drag on forever.
“I’ve been around here a long time. I remember when it was seven or eight in a row the other direction, so what goes around comes around,” he said. “They’ve been on a little bit of a roll and we’ve been in a little bit of a ditch.
“The thing that’s important about this is that these are freshmen and sophomores. This is a team that’s going to be here for a long, long time. I couldn’t be more proud of them.”
Holding an 11-point lead with 12:30 remaining in the game, the Grizzlies watched Rose-Hulman scrap back to within a point with only 3:30 left.
It’s here Franklin College answered with three consecutive triples – freshman guard Sam Gutierrez from the left baseline, Jordan Anderson along the wing and junior backup Atticus Felling at the top of the key.
Rose-Hulman (14-8, 12-3) never got closer than six points after that. The Grizzlies made sure by converting 9 of 11 free throw tries over the last 1:18. Anderson, a sophomore point guard, led Franklin with 20 points, while Gutierrez added 16, Felling 15 and forward Borden Kennedy 11.
“The book on Rose is you have to make ‘3’s. It’s as simple as that,” Prather said. “If you go looking for something else, you’ll have a sea of turnovers and a sea of contested shots.”
All of Anderson’s team-high 10 points in the first half came over the final 8:04 as his hot streak from the perimeter helped the Grizzlies to a 28-24 advantage at intermission.
There were six lead changes and six tie scores over the first 20 minutes as neither squad shot well from the floor – 12 of 36 for Engineers and 12 of 31 for Franklin College. Only one free throw was attempted in the half, a misfire by Rose-Hulman junior forward Charlie Aimone.
The Grizzlies play their final home game Saturday against Mt. St. Joseph at 3 p.m. Then it’s a pair of crucial road tests Feb. 14 at Transylvania and Feb. 17 at Bluffton.