FRANKLIN, Ind. – For the second time in as many years, the Hanover men's basketball team survived a scare at the Spurlock Center, this time, pulling away late for a 62-54 win at Franklin Saturday afternoon.
With shooting as cold as the temperature outside, the Panthers extended their longest winning streak of the season to five games. Hanover's triumph improves the team to 13-4 overall and 8-2 in Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference play, as the Blue and Red are now in a two-way tie for first place in the league standings.
Despite a season-low field goal percentage, .367, Hanover scored 14 of the final 21 points to defeat the Grizzlies (4-13, 2-8 HCAC) for the sixth straight meeting. As one of the nation's best statistical defensive units, the Panthers held FC to a .368 shooting clip and their fourth straight opponent to under 60 points.
Leading by one point, the Blue and Red received a layup and a three-pointer from junior Blake Robertson (Greenfield, Ind.) to extend their edge to 53-47 with 2:23 remaining. Robertson then added another trey and classmate Kevin Williams (Edinburgh, Ind.) logged a score at the rim to grow the HC advantage to seven points, 58-51, with less than a minute remaining. Robertson scored all eight of his game points in the final five minutes, while Williams poured in seven of his nine points in the second half.
Robertson, Williams and senior Cam Fails (Cincinnati, Ohio) combined for 29 of HC's 33 second half points. Fails tallied 14 in the second half en route to his team-high 24 points. The senior added six rebounds and three assists as well. Williams led the Panthers with nine rebounds.
Pitching in with 10 points was sophomore Isaac Hibbard (New Albany, Ind.). Hibbard added six rebounds as well.
Hanover enjoyed a lead for much of the first half and a 10-0 run, led by freshman Zach Harp's (Cincinnati, Ohio) five points, gave the Blue and Red their largest lead of the game at 26-15 with 7:42 left before the half. Franklin though, closed the stanza on a 16-3 run to take a 31-29 lead at the intermission.
Over the final eight minutes of the first half and first six minutes of the second half, HC was held to just two field goal makes, as Franklin enjoyed its largest lead of the contest at 40-32 with 14:07 remaining. Fails scored 12 of HC's first 14 points in the second half, as the Blue and Red rallied to tie the game at 43-all near the midway point of the period.
Hanover will look to continue its stellar stretch when they travel to face Transylvania in a pivotal HCAC contest next Wednesday, Jan. 23. The battle between two of the top teams in the HCAC standings is set for a 7:30 p.m. tip.
Contact: Tyler Jester