For a half, the Franklin College women’s basketball team gave NCAA Division III’s top-ranked team a major scare.
But in the second half, defending national champion DePauw regrouped and earned a 65-54 win Saturday afternoon in the Tip-Off Classic at Spurlock Center.
DePauw’s victory was its 55th in a row, a streak that was in peril after the unranked Grizzlies closed the first half on a 20-3 run for a 29-22 halftime lead.
But down the stretch, the Tigers regained their composure in the final five minutes to secure the win and improve to 2-0.
Franklin fell to 0-2.
Despite the loss, second-year Franklin coach Jennifer Temple applauded the team’s effort.
“I realized that our substitutions were off, so we sat down as a coaching staff and said we needed to play more people do it more strategically, and that’s what we did,” Temple said, referring to Friday’s 53-50 season-opening loss against Denison. “We told them before the game they knew what their roles were.
“The fact is, I think we could have beaten them but at the same time the improvement we made in a quick turnover is exciting because I don’t think anybody’s going to be able to handle us in our league.”
Getting her first start of the season, Franklin sophomore forward Katie Brewer, a 6-foot-1 transfer from Butler University, had a game-high 20 points on 8 of 10 shooting and 4 of 5 free throw attempts, adding six rebounds.
Also working the inside effectively was junior forward Nichole Thompson, a Greenwood graduate, who scored 10 points.
The Tigers started the game strong, stretching its early-game lead to 19-9, forcing the Grizzlies to call its first time-out with 9:23 left.
For the rest of the half, it was all Franklin.
Brewer converted back-to-back 3-point plays, and junior forward Lindsey Dall knocked down a 3-point buzzer beat to close the half.
Brewer got another bucket to start the second half, giving Franklin its biggest lead, 31-22.
But junior guard Savannah Trees ignited a Tigers comeback with a 3-pointer, and senior Alison Stephens led a fast-break layup to bring DePauw back to within one point at 35-34.
Senior forward Alex Gasaway, who finished with 17-points, drained two 3-pointers with five minutes left to put DePauw up 57-48.
The Tigers closed things out by getting to the free throw line in the final minute to preserve the victory.
Trees scored 17 of her team-high 19 points in the second half. Senior guard Ali Ross added 13 points.
The Tigers were held to 36 percent shooting from the field (18 of 50) but made 24 of 31 free throws.
Franklin, meanwhile, was 18 of 43 from the floor for 41.9 percent and 15 of 17 at the line for 88.2 percent.
DePauw won the battle of the boards, 34-18. Stephens pulled down nine rebounds for the Tigers, and senior forward Krista Schott had seven boards and handed out eight assists for the Grizzlies.
Gasaway was named the tournament’s most valuable player.
All-tournament selections included Trees, Brewer and Madi Miller of Otterbein and Gretchen Staubach of Denison.
Franklin hosts Trine at 7 p.m. on Tuesday.