Hawks survive close shave with final offensive burst, upend Flyers for GLVC road victory


ROMEOVILLE, Ill. — When several of the Quincy University men’s basketball players decided to shave their heads to nothing but stubble prior to Thursday’s game at Lewis, there were some skeptics.

“We tried to get everyone else to do it,” QU junior guard Paul Zilinskas said. “They were a little scared.”

They may not have much of a choice if the end result keeps playing out in the Hawks’ favor.

Quincy trailed Lewis throughout the second half of the Great Lakes Valley Conference game at Neil Carey Arena until Zion Richardson made a pair of free throws with 23.6 seconds remaining for a one-point advantage. The Hawks made six consecutive free throws thereafter, squeezing out a 63-62 victory.

“No question about it. One-hundred percent. It was because we shaved our heads,” Zilinskas said with a laugh.

Actually, it was more about resilience and determination.

The Hawks (13-9, 9-5 GLVC) trailed by as many as eight points on two separate occasions in the second half and were down 50-44 with four minutes remaining when the game changed. It started with Zilinskas getting to the basket.

He scored in the paint on four consecutive possessions, drawing the Hawks within 56-55 with 50 seconds. A defensive stop preceded Zion Richardson getting fouled with 23.6 seconds remaining, and the QU junior guard knocked down both free throws for a 57-56 lead.

Another defensive stop led to Zilinskas getting the rebound and fouled before making two free throws with 10.7 seconds left. He made two more free throws with 6.3 seconds remaining, and Malik Hardmon added two free throws with 1.3 seconds left.

A desperation 3-pointer by the Flyers’ Jamere Hill went in at the buzzer, but it didn’t matter.

Quincy’s clutch free-throw shooting — the Hawks went 15 of 19 from the line overall — and Zilinskas’ offensive outburst — he scored 13 of his game-high 19 points in the final three minutes — led to the fourth GLVC road win of the season and a season sweep of Lewis.

“I ended up getting a little hot at the end,” Zilinskas said. “We ended up getting hot as a team. It was a hell of a finish.”

Richardson finished with 15 points, while Hardmon had eight points and seven rebounds despite being held scoreless in the first half. Beau Frericks, whose father, Lance, is a Quincy Notre Dame graduate, led the Flyers with 18 points.

The Hawks hope to carry the momentum into Saturday’s game at seventh-ranked Indianapolis, which is 19-2 overall, 11-2 in the GLVC and riding a 13-game win streak following Thursday’s 83-76 victory over Truman State.

Quincy beat UIndy 62-57 at Pepsi Arena in December.

“Obviously, with UIndy being the top seed, we want to come out with a bang and hopefully pick up another win,” Zilinskas said. “We just want to keep the momentum going.”

Even if it means shaving their heads.

“Maybe we can get everyone else to do it,” Zilinskas said.

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