By RICHARD MARKEY
Herald-Whig Sports Writer
It appeared the Quincy Notre Dame basketball team had delivered an early knockout punch.
However, looks can be deceiving.
The Raiders forced Hannibal into five turnovers on its first six possessions to jump out to an 8-0 lead. When the Pirates countered with a 9-0 run, QND landed a second blow that carried them to a 57-47 victory at The Pit.
Trailing 9-8, QND closed the half by forcing 12 turnovers to build a 36-19 lead.
"It's almost beginning to become one of our staples to come out to a start like that," said Raiders senior forward Alex Fitch, who finished with 14 points. "Now something we need to work on is maintaining that. A lot of times teams go on a little bit of a run after we expend all of our energy. We went on a good run after that, but we need to make sure we maintain the quick start that we get."
Hannibal (1-6), who lost their last two games by a total of six points, found consistency to be their Achilles' heel against the Raiders (8-0).
"I like the way we responded," said Hannibal guard Dalton Powell, who led the Pirates with 18 points. "There were times that we played well and handled their pressure, but there were times that we didn't. For us to play an overall better game, we need to piece it all together and play complete halves, not two minutes here then four minutes off."
Hannibal turned the ball over 27 times. Powell picking up his third foul with 44 seconds remaining in the first quarter certainly had an effect.
"Dalton getting his third foul played a large part of (the run)," said QND coach Scott Douglas. "He's their experienced guy they have on the floor and I think with him off the floor that made a difference too."
Powell made his presence felt in the fourth quarter as he poured in nine points and the Pirates outscored QND 20-9. Hannibal closed the Raiders' lead, which had ballooned to as many as 23 points, to 10 with seven seconds remaining.
"They were making their shots there in the fourth quarter and that cut the deficit pretty big," said center Matt McPherson, who led the Raiders with a season-high 17 points and nine rebounds. "We were trying to run them off the three-point line, but they made their shots when they got them, which is kind of tough."
McPherson scored six of the Raiders' nine fourth-quarter points to keep Hannibal at bay.
"Part of their run was them hitting some tough shots. They're a good team with some athletes and good shooters, so they can go on a run," Fitch said. "A lot of our shots weren't falling. But with McPherson, we can always dump it down inside and get an easy bucket with him."
The 10-point win is the smallest margin of victory for the Raiders this season.
"I think the one thing this shows us is that we're certainly not indestructible," Douglas said. "We have things that we have to be better at and be consistent at. Defensively, we've got to stay sharp for four quarters. But, honestly, this is the first time we've had an opportunity to do that for an extended period of time. I give Hannibal a lot of credit. I think they battled our rear ends off tonight."