QU women put up fight in Boyd’s debut, fall one possession short of completing comeback
QUINCY — The fight is there. The consistency isn’t.
Once the Quincy University women’s basketball team develops the latter, winning games that are decided in the waning moments will become more common.
For now, the Hawks will take the lessons learned from Friday afternoon’s 54-52 loss to Cedarville in the GLVC/G-MAC Crossover Challenge at Pepsi Arena and work to find the steady play they lacked at times.
“I’m probably going to tell you this until January,” said Courtney Boyd, who made her debut as QU’s head coach. “All I’m asking for is consistency. Once we find that consistency, we’re going to be tough.”
Quincy scored only two points over the game’s first 6 ½ minutes, trailed 15-2 and committed 17 first-half turnovers while going 6 of 26 from the field in the first 20 minutes. Yet, the Hawks whittled a 10-point deficit with four minutes to play in regulation down to a single basket and had possession with 14.6 seconds remaining.
Coming out of a timeout, the Hawks were unable to get a clean look at the basket nor grab the offensive rebound. It allowed the Yellowjackets to run off the final couple of seconds and hand the Hawks their 13th consecutive loss in the season-opening Crossover Challenge.
Yet, there was an air of optimism coming from the QU locker room afterward.
“Honestly, the fact we could pull each other out of that start was the best thing,” QU junior guard Taya Stevenson said. “We didn’t drop our heads after that. We had a terrible start. The fact we could pull ourselves out of that and continue to fight until the very end of the game, I’m really proud of everyone on the team for doing that.”
That should have carryover.
“We learned to play together more,” sophomore forward Acheampomaa Danso said. “We kind of got frazzled in the beginning. After this game, we can shake it off, get back to being the group we really are. This was a great learning opportunity for us to see what works and what doesn’t work.
“And every single time, we came back. Not once did we ever stay down. I know we went up and down a lot, but when we got down 15 or down 10, every single time we were right back at it.”
The opening salvo could have been a knockout.
The Hawks missed their first four shots and committed a turnover before Paige Gamble scored with 7:30 remaining in the first quarter. They committed eight consecutive turnovers before scoring again when Cymirah Williams made a pair of free throws with 3:33 to go in the quarter.
That kickstarted a 15-0 run by the Hawks that gave them a 17-15 lead off Stevenson’s two free throws with 6:27 to go in the first half. Cedarville answered by closing the half on an 11-3 run in which Quincy went 1 of 10 from the field.
“Our hills were high and our valleys were low, and there was not a lot of consistency,” Boyd said. “When things are going well, we’re really good. When they’re not, we have to bounce back quicker.”
Trailing by six points at halftime, the Hawks scored the first five points of the second half before the rollercoaster resumed. Quincy never took the lead, but never trailed by more than seven points over a 13-minute span.
Cedarville eventually took a 50-39 lead with six minutes to play and still led 51-41 before Williams scored in the lane with 3:13 to play. QU chiseled the lead down to five in the final minute and cut it to two points when Sam Kiel drilled a 3-pointer with 17 seconds to play.
“We learned to fight through adversity,” Stevenson said. “We didn’t start the game that well, but towards the end, we learned how to play together and how we work well with each other.”
The Yellowjackets threw away the inbounds pass after Kiel’s trey, giving the Hawks the ball with 14.6 seconds to go. A team that shot just 27.1 percent from the field overall struggled to get a good shot, forcing Williams to throw up a contested shot in the lane.
“We have to be able to score,” Danso said. “We played great defense. We did everything we could to fight back. We just have to score. That comes with getting up shots and getting better offensively.”
Danso led the Hawks with 12 points and pulled down seven rebounds, while Stevenson had 10 points and seven rebounds and Janiece Dawson had eight points and 11 rebounds. The Hawks outrebounded the Yellowjackets 46-30, but committed 25 turnovers against just nine assists.
“We have to learn how to start well with each other and start in the right headspace,” Stevenson said. “We gave ourselves the best opportunity we could after that start. I think next time if we fix a few little things like turnovers that we have that game.”
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