QU men’s basketball team begins crucial three-game home weekend with victory

Rockhurst (90)

Quincy University forward Malik Hardmon scored a game-high 26 points in leading Quincy to an 81-73 victory over Rockhurst on Thursday night at Pepsi Arena. | Photo courtesy Denny Sinnock, QU Athletics

QUINCY — Quincy University men’s basketball coach Steve Hawkins relates three games in five days to an NBA schedule.

At least the Hawks have the advantage of playing them all at Pepsi Arena.

QU started the homestand off right Thursday night with an 81-73 win over Rockhurst and kept pace with the University of Missouri-St. Louis for first place in the Great Lakes Valley Conference.

“You sometimes just gotta find a way,” Hawkins said. “We pulled down 15 offensive rebounds tonight and went to the free throw line a lot. Our defense created fast break opportunities, which we needed because our offense was stagnant. (Rockhurst’s) style of play makes it a weird game.”

Hawkins was referring to Rockhurst dumping the ball into their big man, Rich Byhre, and watching him back his defender into the post. And while Byhre, the reigning GLVC Player of the Week, picked up three fouls and wasn’t a factor in the first half, he went to work in the second half and fueled a 7-0 run early in the second half to give Rockhurst its biggest lead of the night at five points.

“Their style kind of puts you to sleep one minute because they are so slow in the half court, but then they pulled down a rebound and it’s like they’re shot out of a cannon,” Hawkins said.

Malik Hardmon led four QU players in double figures with 26 points. It was the third straight 20-plus point effort for the senior transfer from Alcorn State, who also topped the 1,500 point mark in his college career during the game.

“We have a tough stretch here and we have to stay focused so we keep stringing along wins,” Hardmon said.

Hardmon made 12 of 17 free throws during the physical contest. Late in the second half, he went up for a tomahawk dunk and was hammered by Rockhurst’s Davit Kakushadze. Hardmon was shaken, but knocked down the shots.

Zion Richardson scored 16 points for Quincy (10-5, 6-1 GLVC), Paul Zilinskas added 13 and Isaiah Foster chipped in 10.

Byhre and Timaris Brown each scored 10 for Rockhurst (9-6 overall and 4-3 in the GLVC).

Quincy plays again Saturday afternoon against Southwest Baptist before wrapping up the three-game home set Monday night against Drury. Then it’s off the St. Louis next Thursday for the showdown with co-conference leader UMSL.

“We cannot look ahead,” Hardmon said. “We have to stay focused with the games at hand.”

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