By JOSH RIZZO
Herald-Whig Sports Writer
COLUMBIA, Mo. -- A bad string of possessions in the third quarter hurt the Quincy Notre Dame boys basketball team for the second straight game. Nursing a two-point lead with 5 minutes, 8 seconds left in the third quarter Friday, the Raiders' offense went stagnant.
QND going scoreless on four of five possessions allowed Columbia Hickman to ride a 10-2 third-quarter run to a 55-50 win.
"That's the value of a possession in a game like this, a game like Rockford Lutheran or Breese Mater Dei," QND coach Scott Douglas said, referencing QND's three losses. "All the games we've struggled with to this point, you can look at not necessarily the last few possessions, but possessions throughout the course of the game where we weren't solid."
The Raiders (13-3) led 29-27 after Chris Dietrich banked in a runner. Kewpies junior guard Mason Murray then made two 3-pointers during the run as Hickman took a 37-31 lead with 2:26 left in the third quarter. Hickman never trailed again. QND's offense missed two shots and turned the ball over twice during the Kewpies' run.
Offensive rebounds and dribble-drive penetration allowed Hickman (12-1) to find Murray and Doug Johnson, who finished with 10 points off the bench, for open 3-pointers.
"We started to drive to the basket a little bit more," Kewpies coach David Johnson said. "They did a good job of helping, and that opened up our 3-point shots, and we were able to take good shots. Murray got going for us and gave us that lead in the third quarter."
Raiders senior center Matt McPherson, who finished with seven points, five blocks and four rebounds, said QND needs to find a way to sustain its momentum after halftime.
"We have to keep the other team from making runs on us," McPherson said. "We just have to make plays when it counts. They had a couple good buckets, and we got to respond. We responded a couple times, but we need to make a whole effort and put in on the court."
Hickman's speed and balance challenged QND's defense. Murray (12 points), Cecil Williams (11), Jimmy Whitt (10) and Doug Johnson (10) reached double figures for the Kewpies, ranked No. 6 in Missouri Class 5.
"They're hard to guard," Douglas said. "Those guys are fast. They were able to get clean looks. We maybe over-helped just a little bit and left guys. You don't want to give up layups either. They had the ability go by us."
The Raiders made a run late and cut the lead to 53-50 on an 3-pointer by Alex Fitch, who finished with 18 points and eight rebounds, with 47 seconds remaining. After a free throw by Doug Johnson, Chris Dietrich missed a 3-pointer, and Hickman gathered the rebound to seal the win.
The teams traded leads in the first half. Nick Dietrich, who finished with nine points, made a jumper to give the Raiders a 25-23 halftime lead. QND limited the Kewpies to 9-of-32 shooting from the field in first half.
"They got a bit smarter," McPherson said. "They got a couple driving lanes in the second half, and we had to lock down defensively and come off because we knew they were going to be quick."