For the Daily Journal
Franklin College played one of its worst halves of the season and dropped a 65-39 decision to Transylvania at home Wednesday in women’s college basketball.
The Grizzlies entered the game in a three-way tie for fifth place in the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference standings, with a chance to solidify a spot in next week’s postseason tournament. The top six teams qualify for the tourney.
Instead, Franklin will have to survive a four-team jumble on the season’s final day thanks to a first half that saw the Grizzlies shoot 21 percent from the floor, commit 12 turnovers and not break into double digits until the final minute.
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“We couldn’t get our offense going. You have those games, and unfortunately we’ve had a few of those games,” Franklin coach Dana Haggenjos said. “I thought we did pretty well defensively, holding a team like Transy to the numbers they had. But we never got our offense going.”
Franklin (7-16, 6-11 HCAC) will travel to Bluffton on Saturday trying to break through a four-way tie with Mount St. Joseph, Manchester and Earlham; two of those teams will make the tournament. Manchester hosts league leader Rose-Hulman, while Earlham hosts Manchester.
The Grizzlies could have pulled above that jam with a win against Transylvania, but those hopes were dashed after their poor shooting first half.
Trailing just 15-7 early in the second, Franklin went on an eight-minute scoring drought that allowed the Pioneers to build a 25-7 lead. Mallory Cast finally broke the run with a pair of 3-pointers in the final 1:04, but Franklin went into the half trailing 28-13.
Another drought, this one three minutes long at the start of the third, doomed any hopes Franklin had of a comeback. Transylvania led 46-23 after three and by as many as 29 late in the game.
“Our shots didn’t fall at the beginning and then we started thinking about it,” Haggenjos said. “That’s the worst thing a shooter can do, start thinking.”
Franklin shot much better in the second half but still finished just 15 of 64 (23.4 percent) from the floor while committing 15 turnovers. Transylvania (19-5, 14-3 HCAC) shot 45 percent (27 of 60).
Cast came off the bench to score 11 points to lead Franklin, while Bayleigh Walker scored 10 points and had 10 rebounds. Seniors Riley Achenbach and Kelsey Smith scored four and zero points, respectively, in their final home games.
Franklin can clinch a berth in the postseason with a win against Bluffton, but a loss could lead to a three-way tie for the final spot, forcing the HCAC to go deep into its tie-breaking procedures.