RICHMOND, Ind. – A balanced scoring attack and some clutch shooting down the stretch combined to lift Earlham College men's basketball to a 79-77 win over visiting Franklin College, in a Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference clash on Saturday afternoon at the Druley Performance Gym.
Six Earlham players finished in double figures, the most for the Quakers in a single game this season.
Sophomore guard Jamel Barnes paced the starters with 16 points, his 10th double-digit scoring performance of the season, while senior swingman Darrell Hutchison Jr. tacked on 15 points for his 11th effort in double figures. Freshman guard Anthony Phillips contributed a career-best 10 points on a 4-of-7 effort from the floor and a 2-of-3 mark at the charity stripe.
Junior Thomas Sanborn came off the bench to chip in a season-high 13 points on 4-of-6 shooting from the field and a 3-of-4 mark from three-point range. Junior Qawi Rucker and junior guard Blake Bonin added 11 and 10 points respectively.
Rucker also hauled down a game-high eight rebounds, leading an Earlham squad that outrebounded Franklin, 34 to 30, including a 17-10 advantage on the offensive glass that resulted in 17 second-chance points for the Quakers.
Earlham (4-11, 3-5 HCAC) started off hot outpacing Franklin by 10 points over the first five minutes. During that time span, Franklin turned the ball over four times, and Earlham's defense only let the Grizzlies get off three shots - all of which they missed.
After getting on the board, Franklin's offense began clicking and the Grizzlies inched back into the game. A layup by Payton Mills capped a Franklin scoring run that gave the Grizzlies their first lead at 19-17, with 6:57 remaining in the opening half.
A combination of turnovers and missed shots allowed Franklin's lead to widen, but the Quakers quickly regained their offensive momentum at the end of the first half, scoring five points straight to bring the deficit within two,30-28, going into the intermission.
Franklin (4-11, 2-6 HCAC) fiercely attacked the rim to open the second half, and Earlham had trouble defending it without fouling the Grizzlies and giving them extra points. The combination of points in the paint and fouls on Earlham allowed Franklin to extend its lead until they were up by 11, 47-36, with 13:26 to play in the game following an "and-one" on a Sam Gutierrez three-pointer.
Sanborn was the spark from the bench to shift the momentum within Earlham's favor. The junior forward ran the floor on back-to-back possessions scoring consecutive three-point jump shots. Hutchison immediately scored two more off a fast break layup to bring Earlham within three of Franklin, 47-44, at the 12:12 mark of the second half.
Momentum swung back-and-forth between the two teams over the next 10 minutes of play with four ties and a pair of lead changes, before the Grizzlies extended their lead to three points, 69-66, with 2:19 left on the clock.
Barnes drained a three to tie the game with almost two minutes left, but Franklin answered with a pair of layups around a pair of Barnes foul shots to retake a slim 73-71 lead. Sanborn again answered from behind the three-point arc, putting the Quakers back up 74-73 with one minute left.
Hutchison was called for fouling Franklin's Gutierrez in the act of shooting a three-pointer, and Gutierrez connected on his second and third attempts to give the Grizzlies a one-point lead, 75-74, with 39 seconds left.
Earlham remained calm through the adversity, and on the next play Qawi Rucker drove to the basket, backed down Mills and drew the foul for an "and-one" play. Rucker made the free throw, giving Earlham the 77-75 lead. While setting up its offense, Franklin was called for an illegal screen that gave possession back to Earlham, up two with 13 seconds left.
The Quakers matched the Grizzlies foul shot-for-foul shot the rest of the way to hold on for the two-point victory.
Earlham will face another in-conference foe on Wednesday, Jan. 16, on the road at Defiance College. Tip-off will be at 7:30 p.m.