“We had a time-out and I was thinking ‘(Aaron Zinnerman’s) going to get the ball, what corner am I going to stand in,’” said Houston Hodges. “They drew up the play. I was wide open I guess. I don’t know how it went in.”
Hodges hit a lay-up to tie the game 63-63 and send it to overtime where the Little Giants pulled out the 75-68 win over Franklin.
“We’re very confident in Houston’s ability to handle the ball,” Carpenter said. “We knew that he could get to the rim and really create something. He did a fantastic job doing a two-foot stop over their big guy and never got rattled and was able to finish the shot.”
In the overtime the Little Giants got putbacks on their first two trips down the floor and free throws from Hodges to make it 69-65. Meanwhile Franklin came up empty on four straight trips down the floor as Zinnerman pulled down defensive rebounds on three trips.
“In overtime it was very important for AZ to get those rebounds,” Carpenter said. “They had some second shot opportunities late in the second half and throughout the game so we needed to get those rebounds.”
Franklin hit 2-of-9 from the field in overtime as Wabash built up the lead.
“We knew they were going to try to come with quick hitters so we just switched everything,” Zinnerman said. “Our one through four are all athletic so we just switched everything except the five.”
Zinnerman finished with eight rebounds and 15 points — one of five Little Giants in double figures. Brian Shelbourne notched his first career double-double with 13 points and 11 rebounds. Hodges scored 13 off the bench. Derek Bailey scored 11 and Pete Nicksic added 14 in his first start in place of the injured Nick Curosh.
Neither team could put together much of a run or build much of a lead. The largest lead by either team in the first half was three points.
“We won this game because we’ve been in this position many times,” Zinnerman said. “This is something new for them and couldn’t really handle the pressure. That experience helped us get the win.”
In the second half Wabash went cold for a four minute stretch, missing six shots in a row and coming away scoreless in five straight possessions as Franklin built a 40-35 lead.
“We want to get the ball inside,” Carpenter said. “We had to penetrate more.”
Wabash followed that with a stretch of scoring 10 points in four trips, capped off by a Zinnerman 3-pointer to make it 49-47 Franklin.
Franklin led by four with 10 seconds left when Hodges hit a lay-up to cut it to 63-61. Clay Starrett missed a pair of free throws on the other end to open the door for Hodges to send the game to overtime.
“Our team stayed together,” Hodges said. “We started to play as a team and when we do that, we’re pretty good.”
With the win the Little Giants improve to 10-1. They open NCAC play at Hiram Jan. 6.