Second-half defensive struggles too much for Hawks to overcome in loss to Tritons

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Quincy University's Jamaurie Coakley, left, looks to pass while being guarded by Missouri-St. Louis' Donovan Vickers during Thursday's Great Lakes Valley Conference game at the Mark Twain Building in St. Louis. | Photo courtesy Max Bennett, QU Athletics

ST. LOUIS — A tale of two halves featured an ending the Quincy University men’s basketball team would like to rewrite.

A solid first half defensively Thursday night led to the Hawks owning a three-point halftime edge against nationally ranked Missouri-St. Louis in Great Lakes Valley Conference play at the Mark Twain Building. However, the first three minutes of the second half changed everything.

The Tritons’ Bowen Sandquist buried three consecutive 3-pointers, giving UMSL, No. 16 in this week’s NABC Division II national poll, the lead and kickstarting an attack that churned out 52 points in the second half of an 80-69 victory.

The loss drops Quincy (11-7, 7-3 GLVC) a half-game behind Indianapolis, which had a Thursday night bye, for the top spot in the GLVC standings. The Hawks and Tritons (15-3, 7-3 GLVC) are tied for second place.

The return of Malik Hardmon, the senior forward who missed Monday’s buzzer-beating victory over Drury with a tender ankle, gave the Hawks a boost. He scored 14 points and grabbed four rebounds in the first half, helping Quincy build a 31-28 halftime lead.

However, that advantage was 31-20 with 2:10 remaining in the half after Isaiah Foster scored on a drive. The Tritons responded by scoring the final eight points, including Matt Enright’s basket just before the buzzer.

The momentum carried over to the second half as UMSL scored on 11 of its first 12 possessions to take the lead for good. The real separation didn’t come until 7:30 remained when Sandquist hit another 3-pointer for an eight-point advantage. Quincy chiseled the deficit to a three-point game twice thereafter but couldn’t pull closer.

Quincy played without junior guard Paul Zilinskas, the team’s second-leading scorer at 12.1 points per game, and freshman forward Mason Wujek due to injury concerns. Hardmon led the Hawks with 29 points, while Solomon Gustafson had 11 points and Zion Richardson finished with 10 points and 11 rebounds.

UMSL, which shot 58 percent from the field in the second half and 50 percent from 3-point range, got 24 points from Isaiah Fuller and 18 points from Sandquist, who went 5 of 8 from 3-point range.

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