By RICHARD MARKEY
Herald-Whig Sports Writer
Throughout all of the chaos and madness of Saturday night's matchup against Jacksonville, the Quincy Notre Dame basketball team kept one thing constant.
The Raiders never changed their pace, even when they had every reason to hurry.
Foul trouble sent leading scorer Alex Fitch to the bench midway through the third quarter, but QND continued to play patiently against a physical Crimsons zone defense and held on to win 52-47 at The Pit.
When Fitch picked up his fourth foul, he'd scored 16 points and the Raiders held a 30-23 advantage. Rather than attack the Crimsons' 2-3 zone, QND was content to make several passes before each shot, controlling tempo and keeping turnovers low.
"We just had to stay patient," QND senior guard Sam Douglas, who scored seven of his 11 points after Fitch's fourth foul, said. "Stay patient and work the ball against that zone. It's something that you don't see every day. We stayed patient, waited for good shots to come to us instead of forcing things, and we were able to build on our lead a little bit without Fitch in the game."
QND (15-3) stretched its lead to 13 with 4 minutes, 27 seconds remaining.
"We were able to get some key buckets. That was big," QND coach Scott Douglas said. "We were also able to, in the process of doing that, wind clock and get it to a point where we could get (Fitch) back in the game. We were able to stay safe until aroud the 3 minute mark when we started going whacko."
Jacksonville (10-6) turned up its full-court pressure to close the game on a 17-9 run, and poor free throw shooting by the Raiders in the fourth quarter made things uncomfortable. However, the Crimsons never got closer than five.
QND jumped out a 16-6 lead, fueled by 10 points from Fitch and early foul trouble on the Crimsons' large frontline. Dalton Keene, Josh Peak and Blake Hance -- all 6-foot-5 or bigger -- spent considerable time on the bench in the first half.
"The start was definitely big," Fitch said. "We got them in foul trouble though. I think we would have had some mismatches with their size because they're a team with size we haven't seen all year. Getting them in a little foul trouble made it easier to guard them with what we had on the court, because we're not a huge team. It was big getting some of their big guys out of there."
Jacksonville coach J.R. Dugan found the foul trouble also disrupted his team's gameplan.
"Just like any team, you want to try to get some kind of rhythm," he said. "Tonight, there just wasn't any kind of rhythm. It just seemed like every possession there was a foul called, you're going to the free throw line or taking the ball out of bounds ... It's just unfortunate that you get two good teams together like this, and you want to see good basketball. It was just ugly tonight."
Jacksonville and QND combined for 47 fouls, and three players fouled out. Two technical fouls were whistled against the Crimsons.
Fitch scored a game-high 20 points and move into eighth place all-time on QND's scoring list. He didn't seem to mind the physical play.
"It's definitely good with the second half of our schedule," Fitch said of the physical game. "Teams like this are what we're going to see for the rest of the way out. Not that the first half of our schedule was easy by any means, but it's a different style of play, and games like this will help us with that."
"When you look at what we have left ... every night is a battle," Scott Douglas said. "(Jacksonville) is going to battle for the Central State Eight (championship), so we feel pretty good about coming out of here with a win."