It wasn’t so much a height advantage that did the trick, it was Hanover College’s ability to get inside the paint on its way to an 80-65 win against the Franklin College men’s basketball team Thursday night.
The visiting Panthers grabbed their first lead in the game with 1 second remaining in the half on a reverse layup by junior Desmond Marks after trailing by as many as 11 points.
The Grizzlies, who entered the game with a Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference record of 6-6, got off to a fast start on the shooting of sophomore point guard Trae Washington, who scored nine of his game-high 21 points in the first half.
Hanover hit 13 of 35 from the field in the opening half — 10 made shots from inside the lane and three of the 3-point variety.
The Panthers also hit the boards hard in the opening 20 minutes and pulled down 23 boards, with 10 coming on the offensive end of the floor.
Trailing 35-33 at the break, Franklin matched its conference rival basket-for-basket in the opening minutes of the second half.
Senior guard Bailey Howard, who was held to six points in the first half, knocked down a 3-pointer from the corner to bring the Grizzlies within three points at 47-44.
Hanover senior forward Jacob Reiger responded with a 3-pointer of his own to give the Panthers a 50-44 advantage.
From the point, Franklin’s shooting went cold while Hanover continued to take advantage inside the paint.
The Grizzlies were held scoreless for five minutes while the Panthers peppered the inside, sending them on a 14-2 run and their biggest lead of the game at 61-46 with 9 minutes remaining.
Howard rallied the Grizzlies in the final minutes with eight points, but it would not be enough.
In an effort to catch up, Franklin was forced to foul, and Hanover was successful, hitting 8 of 9 free throws to seal the victory.
Hanover placed three players in double-figures after hitting 28 of 56 from the floor and 20 of 34 free throws.
Marks finished with a team-leading 18 points. Sophomore VJ Billips added 18, and sophomore guard Tim Bass had 17.
Behind Washington’s game-high 21 points, Howard finished with 18 and sophomore forward Dion Smith, who was named Heartland Conference Player of the Week, was held to nine points.
Franklin (9-11, 6-7 HCAC) hosts conference foe Bluffton at 2 p.m. Saturday.