FRANKLIN, Mass. -- Saying Catholic Memorial used its defense to lead its offense in the third quarter would be a severe understatement.
After trailing 37-33 at halftime, the Knights dialed up a storm of defensive pressure and forced 10 turnovers, the majority coming from their press, and turned a large portion into easy baskets. A four-point halftime deficit turned into a 54-41 lead heading into the final quarter, winning the third quarter by a margin of 21-4.
The Knights held onto that lead and swept the two-game season series against Franklin with a 71-55 win.
"We picked up the defensive intensity," said CM head coach Denis Tobin. "We mentioned that a little bit at halftime. I don't know if it was the layoff, we haven't played in almost in a week. We weren't that intense in the first half but second half we held them to just four points in the third quarter. Collectively, the first five and then when we went to the bench those guys kept it up."
CM started right away with a full court press and it translated to two quick field goals to tie the game at 37. After Franklin scored once, the Knights ended the quarter outscoring Franklin 17-2, with seven different players scoring in the span.
"One half we played well, one half we didn't," said Franklin head coach Dean O'Connor. "The whole key against [Catholic Memorial] is that you have to handle the pressure. We did in the first half, the second half we didn't and you saw the result.
"The third quarter was the game. We lost 21-4 and it wasn't because we played bad defense. We turned the ball over and gave them easy baskets. That was pretty much the game, we did a lot of things and it felt like a missed opportunity because we had the right plan against them to win the game."
Franklin barely had the opportunity to get its offense going, only attempting eight shots in eight minutes.
CM senior big man Gerard Adams was instrumental in the paint for the Knights, scoring 12 points in the first half and then 13 in the second half for a game-high 25 points. Even more impressive beyond his 14 rebounds was his efficiency, as he shot 75 percent from the floor with just four misses -- two being tips and two he rebounded himself.
"He really stepped up," Tobin said. "If we can get him the ball, eight feet and in, he scores. He's got a nice soft touch and he helps at the defensive end as well. When guys do get beat, guys are going to have to score over a long 6'8" guy. It was one of his better games this season."
The first two quarters and the final quarter were a far cry from when the teams first met in December, a 32-point win for the Knights. If you subtract the all-important third quarter, the game was just a one-point difference.
"We told them all along and we knew how much [Franklin] had improved during the season," Tobin said of what he told his team to expect. "I don't know if we were surprised. I was very impressed with their defense on us in the first half. They did a good job slowing us down and not letting us beat them off the dribble so I give them a lot of credit. In the second half, we tried to impose our will on them and no matter what, don't slow down."
Marcus Giese paced Franklin with 20 points and 15 rebounds, while Chris Rodgers added 19 points for the Panthers. Giulien Smith, Kellen Grady and Matt Hanna all registered eight points for the Knights. The teams will go their separate ways, for now, as Franklin is now apart of the Central bracket and CM will look to gain one of the top seeds in the D1 South bracket.