Franklin held off a furious comeback by St. Edward in a battle of Ohio programs to win 76-73 and advance to the in the semifinal round of the 2014 Beach Ball Classic at the Myrtle Beach (SC) Convention Center.
Franklin (7-0), which led 37-28 at halftime, opened the second half with a 9-2 run to open a 46-30 lead with 12:42 to play. The Wildcats continued to hold the double-digit lead at 65-55 with just 4:00 on the clock. St. Edward (4-2; Lakewood, OH) used an 11-2 run to cut the lead to a single point at 67-66 with 2:01 to play. During the run, Derek Funderburk had a couple of dunks, Sean Flannery connected on a 3-pointer and Kipper Nichols capped the run with a steal and a layup.
Following a timeout by Franklin, Duke signee Luke Kennard missed on a jumper in the lane but grabbed the rebound, layed the ball through the nets, and was fouled on the play. Kennard connected on the free throw for an old-fashioned three-point play to give Franklin a 70-66 cushion with 1:45 on the clock. Funderburk responded with a layup to cut it back to a two-point game 23 seconds later.
Kennard then connected on a pair of free throws before Nichols again cut the lead to two at 72-50 with 56 seconds remaining on a layup. Austin Doliboa again gave Franklin a four-point lead with a pair of free throws with 0:38 on the clock but once again, a key basket by the Eagles would close the gap. This time it was a 3-point basket by Nichols with 30 seconds to play that would cut the lead by Franklin to just one at 74-73. Franklin ran precious seconds off of the clock before Kennard was fouled again and connected on a pair of free throws with 14 seconds to play. Funderburk would miss on a 3-point attempt at the buzzer to seal the win for the Wildcats.
Kennard, who set the Beach Ball Classic’s single game scoring record with 52 points in the opening round, led Franklin with 39 points. His two-game total of 91 points leaves Kennard just 29 points shy of breaking the 4-game scoring mark held by Nick Emnery when he tallied 119 for Lone Peak (UT) in the 2011 BBC. If he can score at least 28 points in his next outing, Kennard will also surpass the 3-game total set by Mike Bibby when the former NBA All-Star was a standout performer at Shadow Mountain (AZ) in 1995.
St. Edward was paced by Funderburk’s 22 points and eight rebounds. Nichols added 20 points in the losing effort for the Eagles.