DEFIANCE, Ohio – Saturday presented Defiance with one of its biggest games of the 2008-2009 campaign and the Jackets responded by bouncing Franklin, 80-65, to climb back atop the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference at the season's midway point.
Defense was the story once again for the Purple and Gold, which held an opponent under the 70-point barrier for the third time in the past four contests. The Grizzlies entered play averaging 81.8 points a night in league games and leading the HCAC in scoring, field goal and three-point field goal percentage but were held in check all afternoon by Defiance. Franklin's 65 points were right in stride with DC's average point total allowed over its past four outings and nearly 17 points under the season average for the Grizzlies.
With the FC offense held in check, Defiance never trailed and improved to 7-0 on the year when holding the opposition under 70 points. DC held sole possession of the lead for all but 25 seconds of the game, with the lone tie coming at 2-2.
The Jackets methodically pounded the ball inside and dominated the glass in the opening 20 minutes, while building a 39-29 advantage at the break.
Franklin's only run of the game came early in the second half, when hoops from Jace Redman and Will Conoley to open the period cut the DC lead in half with 19:04 to play.
Defiance hammered right back with consecutive treys from Eric Stolly and Heath Armstrong to push the spread back into double-digits and a runner from Anthony Brown completed the 8-0 spurt and gave DC the 47-34 lead with just over 17 minutes showing on the clock.
The Grizzlies would never threaten again, as the Defiance lead remained in double figures over the final 10:16 of action. The cushion swelled to as many as 17 points late in the game, before the Jackets finished off the 15-point victory.
Armstrong had the hot hand and led all scorers with 18 points on seven-of-11 shooting from the floor, while Nick Sales shredded Franklin in the paint with 16 points, 16 rebounds, three assists and two steals.
Anthony Pettaway managed 10 points and seven boards despite being limited to 18 minutes with foul trouble and Brown tacked on 12 points. Mike Floyd joined Stolly and Nate Conley with six points and added eight assists.
Defiance (10-6) moves into a tie for first in the HCAC with a 5-2 record in league play following Saturday's win over Franklin (8-8, 5-2 HCAC). DC and Franklin are joined by Transylvania and Anderson in the four-way knot.
Next up for the Jackets will be their 181st meeting on the hardwood with the Bluffton Beavers (10-6, 4-3 HCAC). The teams will tip on Wednesday, January 21 at 7:30 pm inside BU's Founders Hall.