FLOOR RUNNER: Hanover sophomore point guard Tim Bass (above, with ball) sprints past Franklin’s Terry Sargent during Wednesday’s game at the Collier Arena. The Panthers’ Ryan Nowicki fires a 3-pointer (below) as Franklin’s Troy Porter flies by in attempt at a block. Bass scored a career-high 26 points and Nowicki had 23 in Hanover’s 89-75 win. (Staff photos by David Campbell)
FLOOR RUNNER: Hanover sophomore point guard Tim Bass (above, with ball) sprints past Franklin’s Terry Sargent during Wednesday’s game at the Collier Arena. The Panthers’ Ryan Nowicki fires a 3-pointer (below) as Franklin’s Troy Porter flies by in attempt at a block. Bass scored a career-high 26 points and Nowicki had 23 in Hanover’s 89-75 win. (Staff photos by David Campbell)
Hanover caught fire in the second half and hit over 70 percent of its shots to pull away for an 89-75 men's basketball win over archrival Franklin Wednesday at home.

The Panthers, who remained unbeaten against Division III opponents this year, rode a career-high, 26-point night by sophomore Tim Bass to their sixth-straight win over Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference rival Franklin.

Bass, who scored 20 points in the second half, ignited a key 16-4 run during a five-minute stretch late in the game to allow the Panthers to extend a three-point lead to double digits and seal the win.

"Tim was really good tonight. If people make the decision to press him, there is some downside to that," Hanover coach Jon Miller said. "It's hard to trap him, he keeps his head up and looks ahead. (Franklin) is out trying to guard our shooters and that allows Tim to get some free lanes to the basket. Certainly he made some huge plays for us today."

Franklin (3-3, 1-1 HCAC) stayed with Hanover for most of the game thanks to a torrid outside shooting performance. The Grizzlies hit half of the 30 3-pointers they attempted in the game and got treys from six different players.

But Hanover's shooting got hotter as the game progressed and at one point it seemed that the Panthers could score at will.

Hanover (5-1, 2-0 HCAC) led by as many as 12 points (41-29) in the first period and built a 56-40 lead early in the second half. Franklin, behind five 3-pointers, used a 19-6 run to trim the margin to three points (62-59) with 10 minutes to play.

The lead remained three points after the Grizzlies' junior guard Bailey Howard canned a 3-pointer to keep his squad within 67-64 with 6:45 left in the contest.

Bass, however, took over down the stretch. He hit two free throws, scored twice from inside and added a 3-pointer to bump the cushion to 76-67 with 4:26 to play.

Ryan Nowicki, who has averaged nearly 23 points in his last three games against Franklin, hit two field goals and senior forward Brian Gunter added a pair of free throws to increase the lead to 83-68 with 1:42 on the clock.

Bass then nailed 6-of-6 free throws in the final 90 seconds to lock up the victory.

Hanover finished the game 32-for-54 (59.3 percent) from the floor, but was 16-for-22 (72.7 percent) in the second half. The Panthers were also 50 percent from 3-point range (8-of-16) and hit 17-of-25 (68 percent) from the foul line.

It was the kind of shooting performance that Miller was hoping to get from his team.

"We're a team that can really shoot the basketball. (Franklin) is a team that defensively wants to take the three away," Miller said. "What they sometimes leave you is opportunity to get to the basket and I thought we did a much better job in the second half of finding that."

Bass was 8-for-12 from the floor to account for his game-high 26 points while Nowicki was 10-of-13 en route to a 23-point night. Senior Drake Hendricks was 4-for-5 from 3-point range and had 14 points.

Sophomore Desmond Marks snagged seven rebounds to lead the Panthers, which had a 36-22 advantage on the boards. Hendricks matched his career high with five rebounds and freshman Michael Van Kleunen also posted five.

Howard scored 25 points and Gunner Erwin, a senior from Salem, added 22 for Franklin.

The victory was Hanover's second-straight since suffering its only loss of the season at Division I Butler University a week ago. Miller believes that relatively close loss to the Bulldogs has helped his team.

"The Butler game really opened the eyes of some of our guys who realized the offensive abilities that they have," Miller said. "We've always been a good defensive team. Now, if we can marry that offense to the defense we have been playing we feel like we can be pretty good."

The Panthers now hit the road for a six-game road trip and will not return to the friendly confines of Collier Arena until Jan. 5 when they host Bluffton (Ohio). They head to Defiance (Ohio) on Saturday for an HCAC contest.

"We always talk to the guys about how the conference is 18 challenges and half of them are not going to be in your own gym," Miller said. "We've been fortunate to start at home this year and I think that was important for this team. I'm excited to see how this team handles itself when it gets on the road. I'm looking forward to it."

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WEDNESDAY'S MEN'S GAME

at Hanover

HANOVER 89, FRANKLIN 75



FRANKLIN (3-3, 1-1 HCAC) - (g)Howard 25, (f)Erwin 22, (f)Porter 11, (g)Barton 9, Kwiatkowski 3, (g)Sargent 3, Washington 2, Ellis 0, Smith 0.



HANOVER (5-1, 2-0 HCAC) - (g)Bass 26, (g)Nowicki 23, (g)Hendricks 14, Van Kleunen 7, (f)Marks 7, (f)Gunter 6, Steinhart 3, James 2, Wehner 1, Black 0, Kring 0, Robinson 0, Bingham 0.



Halftime - Hanover 41-35. 3-Point Goals - Franklin 15 (Howard 5, Erwin 4, Porter 3, Barton 1, Sargent 1, Kwiatkowski 1), Hanover 8 (Hendricks 4, Nowicki 2, Steinhart 1, Bass 1). Rebounds - Franklin 22 (Erwin 7), Hanover 36 (Marks 7). Assists - Franklin 11 (Howard 3), Hanover 11 (Bass 3, Gunter 3). Total Fouls - Franklin 21, Hanover 17. Free Throws - Franklin 12-13, Hanover 17-25. Fouled Out - None. Next Game - Hanover visits Defiance Saturday.