Franklin College fought back from a 12-point second-half deficit to close to within two points with 1½ minutes left but couldn’t overtake visiting Transylvania, which won 59-53 in a key Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference women’s basketball battle in the Spurlock Center gym Wednesday night.
The decision not only halted the Grizzlies’ eight-game winning streak but dropped them two games behind the Pioneers in the HCAC standings.
Transylvania improved to 10-1 in the HCAC and 14-4 overall, while Franklin dropped into a second-place tie with Defiance at 8-3 and also moved to 14-4 in all contests.
After taking a four-point lead into the intermission, the Pioneers increased their advantage to a dozen points at 42-30 just 6½ minutes into the second period.
The Grizzlies, who struggled to shoot the ball all evening — they shot 31.0 percent overall and made just two of 21 three-point attempts — mustered a comeback, anyway.
Franklin closed to within three at 47-44 with 6:25 left. Transylvania then upped its lead to eight, but Franklin battled back again to pull to within two at 55-53 with 1:37 left.
But Franklin could get no closer as Alex Botkin scored on a big rebound layup with 35 seconds left, and teammate Nicole Coffman put it away with two free throws with four seconds remaining.
Senior center Jess Prewett and sophomore Katie Dale tallied 11 points each to lead Franklin. Senior point guard Annie Tarkington added 10 points, seven rebounds and four assists.
In a men’s matchup between the same schools, host Transylvania shot 62 percent for the night and pulled away in the second half in its 87-68 victory against visiting Franklin College on Wednesday night.
Ethan Spurlin paced the Pioneers (14-4, 9-2) with a game-best 30 points, hitting 10 of 13 field-goal attempts and knocking down 10 of 11 free throws.
Franklin (11-7, 6-5) was led by junior guard Bailey Howard and senior forward Gunner Erwin, who tallied 23 points each. Erwin also grabbed seven of the Grizzlies’ 20 rebounds.
The Grizzlies shot 48.9 percent for the game.