Griffith uses third-quarter run to break open close game
GRIFFITH — If there was a time when Griffith could have disintegrated, it was in the third quarter, just after halftime.
Lowell had made up some ground on the Panthers after a fast start, cutting a nine-point lead to a bucket.
Out of halftime, Griffith had a plan: Clear out for Tremell Murphy and let him do his thing.
Murphy scored three straight times on bigtime power moves, helping the Panthers pull away for an impressive 50-32 victory Tuesday in a Northwest Crossroads Conference matchup.
Griffith coach Gary Hayes said the plays to Murphy, one half of a twin combination (his brother is Anthony) were designed plays. Tremell said he was happy to get the call. “I just wanted to get us going,” he said. He did. His last bucket gave Griffith a 33-23 lead and it forced Lowell coach Nate Richie to call timeout. It didn’t matter. It was an awful second half of basketball for the Red Devils. They were rendered impotent by an aggressive Panthers defense, which dominated the boards and aggressive Griffith defense, which just dominated in general.
“We gave up 14 offensive rebounds and had 17 turnovers,” Richie said. “That pretty much says it all.”
The only time the Panthers seemed threatened came in the second quarter, when Hayes pulled point guard Flint Powell after he picked up his second foul.
Griffith had started out strong, grabbing an 11-point lead in the first five minutes of the first quarter.
Lowell turned the ball over on its first two trips down the floor, helping the Panthers to a 7-0 lead. Griffith expanded its lead to 13-2 with 3:12 left in the first quarter after Anthony Murphy hit a 3-pointer.
The Red Devils made up some ground with a 7-0 run. Zach Van Hook, who finished with 16 points, scored all seven points in the rally.
Lowell had a chance to tie on the next possession but Bill Barker missed a shot.
Griffith answered with a 3-pointer by Rodney Lewis to go ahead by five.
The two teams traded baskets to start the second half but then Murphy, who finished with 12 points, started to break it open up with his six straight points.
Winning consistently is new territory for the Panthers, who get a shot at Munster on Friday. Griffith is now 11-2 and has won five straight.
Hayes is trying to get his team geared up for sectionals. Most of the second half was spent playing a deliberate, half-court style of offense.
“You have to play possession by possession in the tournament,” he said.
Defensively, Griffith held Van Hook, the Red Devils best player, to 5-of-14 shooting. Lowell also didn’t make a 3-pointer.
Aaron Murphy led Griffith with 15 points.