Griffiths then stole the ball from DeLuca at midcourt and followed with another layup, drawing a foul on DeLuca after driving into the paint and spinning off a defender. Griffiths missed the foul shot, but Milford pulled to 31-23 with 1:26 left.
Ward made it a six-point game 30 seconds later, making two free throws after drawing a foul on Maricle during a putback attempt.
“The two things you can’t do when a team is coming back are turnovers and letting them get rebounds,” Sander said. “We gave them both and we let them back in the game.”
Ward fouled DeLuca on the ensuing inbounds play, and DeLuca made the first free throw for a 32-25 cushion. DeLuca missed the second. Griffiths rebounded and went end-to-end to make it 32-27 with 40 seconds left.
Morris then threw the ball away after breaking Milford’s press, giving the Wildcats a chance to make it a one-possession game. Griffiths dribbled to the top of the key and missed a jump shot from behind the three-point arc, though, and DeLuca ended up with the ball. Eli Rutledge fouled DeLuca, who made two free throws to cap the scoring with 24 seconds to go.
“I blame myself for not pressing earlier,” Spurchise said. “But you never know, sometimes you bring the press out too early and they blow it open. And if Peyton had made that shot, it would have been a two-point game.”
DeLuca’s 15 points included a rushed, banked-in three-point basket to end the third quarter. The Mustangs did not appear to know that the quarter was ending, but DeLuca realized in time and threw up the shot from just left of the top of the key.
“The buzzer beater three-pointer at the end of the third quarter was bigger than I thought at the time,” Spurchise said.