OBERLIN – The Franciscan men's basketball team took Earlham to the wire in a narrow 72-71 loss, Saturday afternoon.
In a game that featured 13 ties and 18 lead changes, the Barons and Quakers played nearly identical games. Each team held a five-point lead during the contest, while neither could pull away for a bigger gap. Franciscan shot 43.2% from the floor (32-for-74) while Earlham finished the day with a 43.3 shooting percentage (26-for-60). The Barons held a slight 38-36 advantage in rebounds while each team committed just 14 turnovers. The biggest discrepancy between the two teams came at the free throw line as Earlham went to the line 22 times, making 16 shots, and the Barons just seven times, hitting four shots.
Leading the Barons offensively was senior Keoni Sablan with 14 points and sophomore Matt Trent with 13. Trent nearly missed a double-double with nine rebounds while sophomore Josh York chipped in eight to go with his 10 points and two blocks.
Earlham took its first five-point lead behind a 5-0 run over just a minute of playing time early in the first, 14-9, but the Barons used their own 5-0 run featuring a layup from York and a three from sophomore Joe Schriner to tie the game at 14-14 with 13:13 to play in the first. The two teams traded two-pointers before junior Juwan Perkins hit a jumper with 10:28 to play to give FUS an 18-16 lead. Earlham answered with a jumper of its own and a pair of free throws to take the lead 20-18 with 8:49 left. The back-and-forth battle continued until the Barons used four unanswered points in the final two minutes of the game to take a 36-34 lead into the break.
Following halftime, Trent made a layup to give Franciscan a four-point lead, 38-34, and the Barons used a 6-5 run over the first 3:35 of the second half to extend their lead to 44-39.
Earlham chipped away and eventually tied the ballgame at 44-44 with 13:48 to play before taking the lead 48-47. Perkins made the backend of a trip to the free throw line to tie the game at 48 all but the Quakers responded with four unanswered to lead 52-48.
Much of the second half continued in the back and forth battle, with no team taking more than a five-point lead. With the game tied 65-65 with 3:57 to play, the Quakers outscored the Barons 7-6 in the final stretch of the game and came away with a defensive stop in the final 16 seconds of the game to cling to the narrow 72-71 win.
The Barons fall to 0-3 on the year while the Quakers even their record to 1-1.
Franciscan returns to the court on Tuesday when the Barons travel to DI St. Francis for an exhibition match before taking on Westminster (Pa.) on Saturday, November 25 at 2:00 pm.