Crusaders make five three-pointers in second half and pull ahead to 64-58 win over Springfield.
FAIRBORN — Springfield lived by the three-pointer in the first half of a district final game against Moeller on Saturday. Unfortunately for the Wildcats, Moeller not only lived by the three in the second half but won by it.
Keegan McDowell made five three-pointers in the second half to help Moeller overcome a nine-point halftime deficit and earn a 64-58 win at the Nutter Center. Moeller advances to play Wilmington in a regional semifinal on Wednesday.
Springfield led for 23 minutes but couldn’t hold on. After taking a 12-point lead early in the third, Moeller went on an 11-0 run. The Crusaders stayed close until finally pulling ahead on a three-pointer in the fourth. They outscored Springfield 9-2 in the game’s last three minutes.
“You get tired through the game, but we lost to a good team tonight so you can’t hang your head on it,” Springfield junior guard Danny Davis said. “It’s going to hurt, but we’ll get through it and be back next year.”
Davis was red hot in the first half. He made all five of his three-point attempts for 15 points and had two assists. He hit one three in front of Moeller’s bench and blew on his fingers as he ran by.
“I was just getting into the groove,” Davis said. “Once I hit one, I start hitting more.”
Springfield jumped out to a 16-9 lead after the first quarter. The Wildcats’ offense remained hot in the second as Davis and Michael McKay combined made five three-pointers. The ‘Cats made a total of nine three’s in the first half to take a 34-25 halftime lead.
But Moeller was even hotter in the second half. McDowell made four of his five second-half three’s in the fourth quarter, including one with 2:12 left that gave the Crusaders a 58-56 lead. Springfield never led again.
The Wildcats’ made 31 percent of their shot attempts in the second compared to 52 percent in the first. Moeller shot 72 percent from the field in the second half and missed only one attempt in the fourth quarter.
“They made shots in the second half,” Springfield head coach Isiah Carson said. “We don’t have any reason to hang our heads. That’s a good basketball team right there. We shot lights-out first half, they shot lights-out second half. That’s just how it goes.”
The real mortal wound for Springfield came with 46 seconds left. The Wildcats trailed 60-56 and fouled McDowell. He missed both free throws but Sam McCracken fought over two Springfield players for the rebound and tipped the ball back in.
“That was huge,” Carson said. “We had a chance to get the rebound and get points on our end. But that put pressure on us. We might not have been down that much all the rest of the game.”
McDowell led Moeller with 18 points and brought down six rebounds. Isaiah Payton scored 15 while McCracken and Trey McBride added 10 each. The Crusaders shot 24-for-40 (60 percent) from the field in the game while Springfield shot 20-for-49 (40.8 percent). Springfield owned a 25-24 advantage in the rebounding battle.
Davis had four rebounds with his game-high 22 points. Darius Harper scored 11 points and had six rebounds.
Springfield beat the Crusaders twice last season, including a four-point win in a regional semifinal game. Carson said Moeller’s guards have improved since last year.
“They’re moving the ball a lot more this year,” Carson said. “Everybody on their team is dangerous. It’s a different ball club; they’re pretty good.”
Springfield finishes with an 18-8 record after capturing its second consecutive sectional title. The Wildcats will lose five seniors to graduation, including Harper. The team will be anchored next season by McKay and Davis.
“This program’s back,” Carson said. “Back-to-back appearances in the district championship is big time. It’s been a while since Springfield’s done that. I’m proud of (our seniors) and all they accomplished. The past three seasons for us have been great seasons. We’re just trying to keep this going and be like Moeller, who seems like they live here. We don’t have anything to be ashamed of.”
Moeller’s win was its third straight in district final games. The Crusaders will play Wilmington on Wednesday at Xavier’s Cintas Center. The Hurricane beat Mason 63-38 in a district final earlier on Saturday at Wright State.
Moeller (23-3) beat Wilmington by nine points in a nonconference game on Jan. 25.