Frustrated by fouls, Foster fuels final flourish as Hawks snap three-game losing streak


Quincy University's Isaiah Foster, right, dribbles while guarded by Maryville's Jaeden Smith during Saturday afternoon's college basketball game at Pepsi Arena. | David Adam

QUINCY — Sitting on the bench tested Isaiah Foster’s patience.

Three fouls limited the freshman guard to just 4 minutes, 35 seconds of playing time Saturday until he checked into the game with 11:40 remaining in the second half.

Foster helped the Quincy University men’s basketball team go on a 10-point run to take the lead for good in a 70-62 victory over Maryville in a Great Lakes Valley Conference game at Pepsi Arena.

The Hawks (12-9) ended a three-game losing streak and improved to 8-5 in conference play. They are in a third-place tie with William Jewell, one game behind Missouri-St. Louis and 2½ games behind Indianapolis. Three of QU’s next four games are against teams in the top six in the GLVC.

Foster played 4 minutes, 8 seconds in the first half after he picked up fouls 17 seconds apart. When QU coach Steve Hawkins put Foster back on the floor in the second half, he lasted just 27 seconds before fouling again.

“I was a little frustrated, but you have to trust in Coach Hawk,” Foster said. “It’s hard to be patient, because you want to play. You want to contribute to the team. You want to get the win and be involved. So yeah, you’ve got to have patience. Whenever I got back in, I just had to make plays for my team.”

When Foster went back on the floor, the Hawks were in the middle of a run where they missed a shot or turned the ball over on seven consecutive possessions.

Two free throws from Paul Zilinskas put QU ahead 44-43 with 8:50 remaining in the game. Solomon Gustafson followed with a left-handed jump shot that turned into a three-point play. After a missed 3-pointer and a turnover by Maryville, Malik Hardmon scored on a post-up.

After another missed shot by Maryville, Foster drained a 3-pointer to put the Hawks ahead 52-43.

“The ball moves better when he’s in the game,” Hawkins said of Foster. “He’s got good tempo. He’ll really push it, but then at the same time, when it’s not there, he’ll just give it up and get us into our offense. His decision making is good for a freshman. It’s way above average for a freshman, but then he’ll do something boneheaded like foul 40 feet from the basket when all we need to do is have the clock move, That’s his competitive desire stepping up, just wanting to guard somebody. At the same time, he had a huge, huge three.

“The other part about Isaiah, that has been incredibly impressive to coach is his IQ. He’ll lock in on a scouting report. When he comes to the bench, he’s saying things like, ‘We missed the backside rotation’ or ‘Why are we closing out on him? He’s not a shooter.’ I heard a coach say once that kids either like basketball, love basketball or live basketball. If you like it, that isn’t getting get it done at the college level. If you love it, you have a chance to be pretty good. Isaiah loves it. He watches his film. He gets his extra shots. He studies scouting reports. When you are eating right, sleeping right, reading scouting reports and watching film, now you’re living it.”

Quincy High School graduate Jaeden Smith helped Maryville get back in the game with back-to-back 3-pointers, and a layup by Dylan Ingram got the Saints within 53-51 with 4:59 remaining in the game.

However, Foster got an assist on a 3-pointer by Zilinskas. After a Maryville turnover, Hardmon made two free throws, and after another Maryville turnover, Zilinskas made a layup with 3:17 remaining in the game to put Quincy ahead 60-51.

Maryville never got closer than seven points thereafter.

The Saints only shot 43.8 percent from the field and turned the ball over 19 times, leading to 22 Quincy points.

After missing 34 of 39 3-point shots in their last two losses to Missouri S&T and McKendree, the Hawks made 5 of 11 3-point shots on Saturday.

Hardmon led the Hawks with 19 points. Zilinskas scored 14 points, and Zion Richardson added 10. Ben Palacios had 19 points for the Saints, and Smith finished with nine.

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