Inability to make shots costs Hawks chance to get back on track in GLVC play

MO S&T (43)

Quincy University's Malik Hardmon, left, and Isaiah Foster, right, battle for a loose ball against Missouri S&T during Saturday's Great Lakes Valley Conference game at Pepsi Arena. | Photo courtesy Denny Sinnock, QU Athletics

QUINCY — There wasn’t a lid on the basket at Quincy University’s end of the court.

It just seemed that way.

The QU men’s basketball team shot just 33 percent from the field, missed 20 of 24 tries from 3-point range and made only 17 of 27 free throws Saturday afternoon to fall 72-65 to Missouri S&T in Great Lakes Valley Conference action at Pepsi Arena.

The loss was the second straight and third in four games for QU (11-8, 7-4 GLVC). The Hawks are tied with William Jewell for third place in the GLVC behind Indianapolis and Missouri-St. Louis, both winners on Saturday.

“It was as frustrating a day as I can remember,” QU coach Steve Hawkins said. “We had an awful shooting day. Our defense, which had not been very good, held up. We held the best offensive team in the league to 35-percent shooting and we outrebounded them.

“I’m proud of our kids’ effort. If our guys shoot the percentage they normally do, we’re OK.”

Playing without second-leading scorer Paul Zilinskas (foot injury) and 6-foot-8 forward Mason Wujek (back) for the second consecutive game, the Hawks were unable to sustain an offensive rhythm for much of the game, going scoreless in critical stretches in both halves.

After Zion Richardson hit his only 3-pointer in seven tries to cap an 8-0 run to give QU a 23-21 lead — its last of the game — the hosts managed just a lone field goal and four free throws over the final seven minutes of the first half despite getting some good offensive looks.

Missouri S&T, meanwhile, took advantage to score 10 straight points to go up 31-23. After two free throws each by QU’s Jamil Wilson and Malik Hardmon, the Miners’ Julien Smith sparked a 9-0 run by the Miners to push the lead to 40-27. A jumper by JJ Schwepker in the final minute cut the deficit to 40-29 at the half.

“Because we were not shooting well, we had to put pressure on the rim and drive,” Hawkins said.

That strategy worked in the opening minutes of the second half with the Hawks successfully attacking the basket and clamping down on defense. They finished with 30 points scored in the paint.

Solomon Gustafson’s rebound basket off an Isaiah Foster driving miss, a layup in traffic by Jamaurie Coakley and two free throws by Hardmon, who was knocked to the floor trying to put back an offensive rebound, pulled QU within 45-43 with 13:13 left.

“We knew we would make a run,” said Foster, who finished with 11 points and three steals while playing a team-high 36 minutes. “We were fighting hard to get stops, but we could never keep the momentum going. The ball didn’t fall our way. It was frustrating.”

The Hawks had several chances to tie the game or take the lead over the next two minutes but could not get shots to drop. Two free throws by Alex Benassi and a 3-pointer from the right wing by Kaden Froebe pushed the Miners’ lead to 50-43.

QU responded with another run, fueled by a 3-pointer by Foster, a reverse lay-in by Richardson after snaring an offensive rebound and a free throw by Hardmon to tie it at 50.

The Hawks again went cold, failing to score over the ensuing three minutes to fall behind 58-50. They twice cut the deficit to four, the last at 60-56 on a driving layup by Foster.

Then, after Hardmon stuffed Smith on a drive to the basket and grabbed the rebound, Foster sent a quick outlet pass down the sideline to Richardson in front of the QU bench. Froebe appeared to make contact with Richardson before the ball squirted free and bounced toward the sideline.

Froebe, scrambling to recover after falling into the Hawks’ bench, tipped the loose ball to Lovell Williams, who sent a pass downcourt to Smith. Hardmon was called for goaltending on Smith’s layup attempt, giving Missouri S&T a 62-56 lead.

“Zion had the ball and was fouled, which is why the ball was loose,” Hawkins said of the controversial play with 3:33 to go. “(Froebe) was out of bounds — he nearly ran into me — and never established himself back in bounds (before tipping the ball back into play). We had a chance to cut into their lead and then they go up by six.”

The Hawks missed three shots on their next possession and managed to get no closer than five points the rest of the way as they made just three field goals — two in the final 25 seconds with the outcome decided — and the Miners sank 10 of 14 free throws to improve to 12-7 overall and 6-5 in league play.

Hardmon, still nursing a tender ankle, finished with 17 points, but had only five in the second half and missed eight of his 12 shots overall. Foster was the only other player in double figures for QU, which gave up 16 second-chance and 23 fast-break points.

Williams led Missouri S&T with 19 points and Benassi had 13. The Miners entered the game shooting 49.5 percent from the field and averaging nearly 84 points per game. 

After playing five games in 10 days, the Hawks are off until traveling to McKendree Thursday night. They return home next Saturday to face Maryville.

“We didn’t get it done,” Foster said. “We didn’t execute and we didn’t knock down the shots. We have to figure out what we did wrong so we can get back on a roll.”

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