WILMINGTON — Bayleigh Walker’s basket as time expired Friday lifted Franklin College to a thrilling 78-76 win over Wilmington College in the opening round of the Fred Raizk Memorial Tournament at Hermann Court.
Franklin advances to the championship game, scheduled for 3 p.m. tip-off, against Albion College, who defeated Hiram, 88-59, in the second game Friday night.
Wilmington will play Hiram 1 p.m. Saturday in the consolation game.
It was a see-saw game, featuring 14 lead changes and 11 ties.
Franklin held a a 19-15 first quarter lead, but thanks to a 20-13 effort in the second period, Wilmington took a 35-32 lead into the locker room.
Momentum switched over to the Grizzlies in the third period as Franklin outscored the Quakers, 25-21, and held a slim, 57-56 advantage going into the final period.
Wilmington pulled ahead, and built an eight-point lead (67-59) with 5:48 remaining in regulation. Franklin kept chipping away at the deficit, with a three-pointer by Britney Ballard giving the Grizzlies a 71-70 with 1:28 to play.
After McKayla Binkley put Wilmington back on top 74-73 with 14 seconds to go, the Grizzlies came back with another three-point bomb by Ballard to make it a 76-74 Franklin.
Binkley was fouled on a drive to the basket and made both free throws to knot the score at 76-all with 1.9 seconds to go. The Grizzlies then worked the inbounds play on the short corner to Walker, whose shot kissed off the glass as the horn sounded.
In a losing cause, McKayla Binkley led the WC attack with 22 points, Hannah Binkley followed with 13 points, while Kennedy Lewis and Kelly Noll each scored 12 points for WC.
Ballard topped all scorers with 23 points which also included four three-pointers, while Walker who scored the winning basket added 14 points.
Wilmington out-rebounded Franklin on the night, 50-46. Michelle Lee pulled down eight rebounds, and Noll added seven boards for WC. Kennedy Lewis had three assists and Lee came up with three steals.
WC was 25 for 72 from the field, including 6 for 21 beyond the three-point arc. The Grizzlies were 30 for 70 overall and 4 for 10 at the three-point line.
Neither team shot free throws exceptionally well, Franklin 14 for 23 and Wilmington 20 for 30.
Bill Liermann covers college and high school sports for the News Journal. Follow him on Twitter @lierjet.