Hanover’s Alicia Hopkins (above) catches her breath late in Wednesday’s fast-moving and physical basketball game with Franklin at Collier Arena. The Panthers’ Elyse Weddle (below) tries to shoot over the outstretched arms of Franklin defender Jess Prewett. (Staff photos by David Hill)
Hanover’s Alicia Hopkins (above) catches her breath late in Wednesday’s fast-moving and physical basketball game with Franklin at Collier Arena. The Panthers’ Elyse Weddle (below) tries to shoot over the outstretched arms of Franklin defender Jess Prewett. (Staff photos by David Hill)
Hanover jumped out to a 5-1 lead and led by as many as 12 points three times early in the second half but the shots stopped falling and visiting Franklin pulled out a 62-56 win in women's basketball Wednesday at Collier Arena.

With the win, Franklin (16-4, 10-3 Heartland) takes sole possession of second place behind 11-1 Transylvania. Hanover, now 15-5 overall and 9-4 in league play, moves to third place.

"Our lack of shooting was the big thing about tonight's game," Hanover coach Molly Jones said. "We just couldn't hit our shots. We went 30 percent from the field and 20 percent from 3-point range and you can't beat a good team with those numbers."

Franklin center Jess Prewett, who scored a game-high 17 points, pulled down 11 rebounds and had five blocks, was a thorn in the side of Hanover early.

"She had 13 points in the first half but we were able to control her in the second half, limiting her to two free throws and a basket," Jones said. "We didn't have any help side in the first half and one-on-one she's very good."

Franklin led the battle of the boards, out-rebounding the Panthers, 42-32. The Grizzlies had 29 defensive boards.

Hanover put together a balanced scoring attack in the first half led by Natalie Morse's seven points and six by Alicia Hopkins. The Panthers made 11 of their 13 free throws and led by as many as seven points.

However, the Panthers were plagued by a pair of early fouls on forward Courtney Prater, who finished the night with just eight points and one rebound.

"We just couldn't keep her on the floor," Jones said. "She only played 14 minutes tonight. Just imagine doubling that - 28 minutes and 16 points! It's frustrating."

Hanover's Stephanie Pahren and Prater were strong forces early in the second half as the Panthers increased their lead to as much as 12.

But the game began to change in Franklin's favor around the midway point of the second half. Prater committed another foul and had to sit down and the Grizzlies' Nichole Thompson hit four free throws and guard Annie Tarkington hit two of her three 3-pointers to jumpstart the Grizzlies game-changing rally.

"All of a sudden (Tarkington) starts firing away and hitting 3-pointers," Jones said. "She had only made five 3-pointers all season. We were playing for the break and she goes long-range."

Franklin took its first lead of the night at the 6:57 mark on a layup by Tarkington and the two teams exchanged leads five times before the Grizzlies took the lead for good with 2:44 left on a Thompson free throw.

Jones used several timeouts to give her tired team a break and adjust strategy but the Panthers had to resort to fouling and Franklin was able to hit the free throws and expand its final margin. Both Prater and Katie Gahimer fouled out in the final minutes.

"I'm not disappointed with our effort tonight," Jones said. "We've got to learn to close a game. We had opportunities and shots but didn't knock them down when we needed to and we had costly turnovers at the end."

Hanover returns to action Saturday at Earlham.

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WEDNESDAY'S WOMEN'S GAME

at Hanover

FRANKLIN 62, HANOVER 56

FRANKLIN (16-4, 10-3 HCAC) - (c)Prewett 17, (g)Tarkington 13, (f)Schott 10, Thompson 9, (f)Dall 8, (g)Rich 5, Dale 0.



HANOVER (15-5, 9-4 HCAC) - (g)Morse 13, (f)Gahimer 12, (f)Prater 8, Pahren 8, (g)Hopkins 7, Weddle 3, Bischoff 3, (g)Watson 2, Malloy 0, Caudill 0, DeMoss 0, Tubb 0.



Halftime - Hanover 29-22. 3-Point Goals - Franklin 3 ( Tarkington 3), Hanover 3 (Gahimer 2, Morse 1). Free Throws - Franklin 21-27 (78%), Hanover 15-21 (71%), Total Fouls - Franklin 18, Hanover 18. Fouled Out - Franklin (None), Hanover (Gahimer, Prater). Technical Fouls - Franklin (Rich), Hanover (None). Rebounds - Franklin 42 (Prewett 11, Schott 7), Hanover 32 (Gahimer 6, Pahren 5). Assists - Franklin 6 (Thompson 3), Hanover 8 (Morse 2, Hopkins 2). Blocks - Franklin 6 (Prewett 5), Hanover 2 (Gahimer 2). Steals - Franklin 9 (Schott 5), Hanover 12 (Hopkins 5). Turnovers - Franklin 25, Hanover 21. Next Game - Franklin visits Manchester Saturday, Hanover visits Earlham Saturday.