The third quarter of Saturday night’s boys basketball game between Buchtel and host St. Vincent-St. Mary turned out to be a pivotal eight-minute stretch.

St. V-M separated from Buchtel with balanced scoring on its way to a 76-61 victory at LeBron James Arena.

“We talked about being who we are at halftime, which is we are going to sit down, we are going to guard and make them earn a basket,” said St. V-M coach Dru Joyce II, who was inducted into the Irish Athletic Hall of Fame prior to Saturday’s tip-off.

The Irish (7-2) took control by outscoring the Griffins 22-7 to take a 53-38 lead into the fourth quarter en route to their sixth consecutive victory. Sophomore Malaki Branham scored nine of his 18 points in the quarter, which also included scoring from five senior teammates — Lunden McDay, Keyshawn Jones, Chris Painter, Darius Cone and Jordan Addison.

“When you get that many guys making an impact in the game, then good things happen,” Joyce said. “They can’t key on anyone because our strength is all over the floor.”

McDay had 13 points and five rebounds, Painter added in 13 points and four steals, and sophomore Seth Wilson and junior Marcus Johnson each contributed nine points.

“We were not really boxing out in the first half so in the second half we boxed out, played solid defense, moved the ball around on offense and scored,” McDay said.

Freshman Chris Livingston paced Buchtel (5-3) with 21 points. Senior Jonathan King (13 points), senior Anthony Hunt Jr. (10 points) and sophomore Noah Peeples (nine points, seven rebounds) were also active for the Griffins.

“Chris is a great player,” Joyce said of Livingston.

St. V-M led 16-12 after one quarter and the score was 31-31 at halftime.

“We started to pick our play up in the second half after we were kind of sluggish in the first half,” Branham said. “Coach Dru told us to pick it up more and that is what we did.”

Michael Beaven can be reached at 330-996-3829 or mbeaven@thebeaconjournal.com.