HAMMOND — Bishop Noll and Morton came out at a frenetic pace, and it cost both teams early and often.
The Warriors and Governors turned the ball over several times in the first quarter, and it carried on for the rest of the game.
Shots ricocheted off of the rim. Some field goal attempts went over the backboard. A number of passes sailed out of bounds. And players from both sides spent a lot of time diving on the floor after loose balls. But in the end, Times No. 3 Bishop Noll did just enough to come away with a 69-62 win.
"It's not a bad thing to win a game after playing so bad," Warriors coach Joshua Belluomini said. "I didn't think we played well. But we just need to take care of the ball. Taking care of the ball and rebounding are the two things we are constantly stressing in practice."
The erratic play came to a head in the third quarter when Bishop Noll guard Brandon Scott drove to the rim and appeared to make a right-handed floater off of the glass to take a 34-29 lead. But before the ball could come fully through the net, his teammate — forward Morgan Grant — slapped the ball into the stands. The referees called basket interference, which negated the made field goal and took away a bucket for the Warriors.
"(Scott) took the shot, so I jumped in the air to try and get the rebound just in case he missed," Grant said. "And someone pushed me in the air, and I had my hands up and I just ended up hitting it out of the hoop."
Grant did more than enough to make up for it. He finished out the quarter with three big blocks, including one rejection on Morton guard Patrick Driver that went flying over the Governors' bench.
Grant scored just six points on 3-of-7 shooting but was an enforcer for the Warriors in the paint. He came up with several rebounds down the stretch and made it tough for Morton to get any clean looks at the rim.
"Morgan was very focused, especially after that (basket interference)," Belluomini said. "We've been trying to get out of him — over the last two years — a little leadership. Finally, I hear him at the end of the game talking and getting into people. He wanted that game, and we needed him."
Bishop Noll (1-1) opened up a 12-point lead early in the fourth quarter behind back-to-back 3-pointers from guards Hunter Laurincik and Troy Acree, but Morton wouldn't go away easily. The Governors hung around and cut the lead all the way down to four with a few minutes left to play.
Sophomore guard Miguel Burns led the comeback by scoring 13 of his team-high 15 points in the final period, but his hot hand wasn't enough to lift Morton (0-1) to a season-opening road win.
The Warriors used a late-game run to earn their first victory of the year, and Scott led the charge. He finished the night with a game-high 25 points — making 12 of his 13 free throw attempts — and knocked down three 3-pointers. He scored 17 of his points in the second half and sealed the seven-point win with several clutch shots from the charity stripe.
"My team believes in me, so I just try to deliver as much as I can for them," Scott said. "They have confidence in me to deliver every night, so that's what I gotta go out there and do."