CINCINNATI, Ohio-- The Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference's top two field goal percentage defenses were on display in the Harrington Center on Saturday. As The Mount put their undefeated conference record on the line against the Grizzlies of Franklin College. Defense would rule the day as the neither team was able to shoot the ball exceptionally well. The Lions held Franklin to 36.1 percent from the field for the game, and were able to shoot a 42.6 percent themselves enroute to a 56-55 victory.
The game was back and forth for the first 10 minutes of play, as there were four lead changes and three ties. Franklin then went on a quick 10-1 spurt over the next three minutes of play to take their largest lead of the game, at 17-8 at the 9:05 mark of the first half. The Lions would spend the rest of the first half trying to claw their way back into the game, and would hold Franklin scoreless over the final 5:29 of the half to go into the halftime break only down 2 points. Senior forward Erik Edwards (Cincinnati, OH/Roger Bacon) led the way in the first half with 6 of his team-high 16 points.
The Lions opened the second half trailing 22-20, but quickly they started the second half knocking down their first four shots to take a 30-26 lead. The Lions would hold that lead until the 11-minute mark when Franklin took the lead back at 37-36. The final 11 minutes of play were the definition of nail-biting basketball, that saw nine lead changes and four ties.
As the game entered the final minute of play Franklin took the lead at 55-54 with 56 seconds to play. Edwards would put the Lions back ahead with a layup with 37 seconds left on the clock. He had an opportunity to put the Lions up two but missed a chance at the old fashioned 3-point play. The Mount's defense which has carried them over the past three contests would be up to the challenge of stopping Franklin on four shot attempts to take the lead.
With 23 seconds left Franklin guard Jordan Anderson drove to the basket and looked to be poised to tie the game with a layup. But Edwards came flying in from behind to knock the shot out of bounds. After another missed shot by the Grizzlies and an offensive rebound the Lions would deny three attempts by Franklin to inbound the ball, playing suffocating defense. Franklin would get an opportunity to get of one final shot. They inbounded the ball with 4.7 seconds left on the clock, the ball was knocked around, but fell into the hands of Franklin sharpshooter Kale Morris, who put up an off-balance three point attempt which would fall short.
Andrew Finley (Cincinnati, OH/Walnut Hills) was the only other Lion in double figures with 11 points, he added 3 assists and two rebounds. Tyler Manaugh (Madison, IN/Madison) came off the bench to secure 6 rebounds adding 4 points, along with playing pivotal defense on the game final possession.
The win sets up a huge game for the Lions on Wednesday. They will travel down I-75 to Lexington, Kentucky to take on the Pioneers of Transylvania University. The game will pit the top offense and top defense in the Heartland against each other, in a game of the HCAC's top two teams. The game is scheduled to tip-off at 7:30 pm, tune into MSJsports.com for all your live coverage of Lions basketball this season.