When in doubt, give the ball to Grayson Allen down the stretch.
That’s the philosophy Providence coach Jim Martin employed in the final five minutes of his team’s Beach Ball Classic quarterfinal game against Moeller (Cincinnati, Ohio), and the 6-4 senior guard made the plays and decisions down the stretch that led Providence to a tight 60-56 win at the Myrtle Beach Convention Center.
“That guy’s so good, I think when in doubt you just have to make sure we’re getting the ball in his hands to make some plays,” Martin said. “He’s good down the stretch.”
Though not necessarily Providence’s point guard, Allen scored or assisted on 11 of the Stallions’ final 13 points and finished with a game-high 30.
Providence (8-3) will face Bishop Loughlin (N.Y.) in Monday night’s semifinals.
A 10-0 run early in the second half gave Providence an eight-point advantage and the lead for good, though Moeller (6-1) never trailed by more than eight, pulled within two points with seven minutes remaining and was within three points twice in the final 3:30.
The first time came following a 3-pointer by Tre’ Hawkins with 3:22 remaining, but Providence spread the floor and pulled the ball out into a four corners-like ball-possession stall for more than 1:30, then Allen drove and dished to 6-9 junior Wyatt Walker for a dunk and three-point play that gave Providence a 52-46 lead with 1:40 to play.
“They were in a zone, and their two bigs were really good giving a lot of help defense,” Martin said. “We were in the bonus and we shoot free throws pretty good, so I thought I’d give us a chance to win the game at the free throw line.”
Another 3-pointer by Hawkins again pulled Moeller within three points with 1:30 to play, but Allen hit a pair of free throws to push the advantage back to five, and both he and Ben Bobbitt added a pair of free throws each in the final minute, and Allen added a late dunk to hold off Moeller.
Senior guard Christian Terrell and Walker complemented Allen with 11 points each.
“I think they’re a very polished basketball team and their guards are really pretty advanced,” Moeller coach Carl Kremer said. “When they needed to get some good looks they were more sure of what they were doing than we were. It’s really our first game this year we’ve been challenged. We’re clearly in the growing process and this is good for us. I thought they out-executed us at key times.”
Moeller shot 50 percent from the field, but possessions were at a premium and Providence made 21 of its 38 shots for a field goal percentage of 55.3 percent.
“We stepped it up and played really good defense and knocked down some big rebounds and I think that’s what gave us the win,” Walker said. “When there are two good teams like that, everyone on the floor can score and put up big numbers. It’s about who can get stops and who can rebound the ball.”
Providence jumped out to a 9-0 but trailed at halftime. The Stallions’ early lead came after a 3-pointer and put-back by Terrell, inside basket Walker and spinning 360-degree layup by Allen to finish off a baseline drive.
But Moeller battled back as both Wright State signee Grant Benzinger – who finished with a team-high 21 – and heavily-recruited 6-9 junior center Nate Fowler drained a pair of 3-pointers apiece, and the Crusaders eventually took their first lead on the final bucket of the first half.
Fowler picked up his second foul just 2:22 in to the game and was pulled from the game by Kremer, but he returned with about 8 minutes remaining in the first half and his playing time wasn’t compromised for the remainder of the game. Fowler finished with eight points, six rebounds and three fouls in 29 minutes.
“My rule is generally I don’t play kids with two fouls in the first half, but he’s a pretty special, smart kid and Nate’s so integral to everything we do we got him in there and just kind of prayed for the best,” Kremer said.
Despite Fowler’s presence, Providence outscored Moeller 30-14 in the paint.
“We’ve got to get the ball inside better and we have to do a better job of coaching, and this will be good for us,” Kremer said.
Contact ALAN BLONDIN at 626-0284.