Men's College Basketball

Hawks looking for another opportunity to play with purpose

By Herald-Whig
Posted: Mar. 4, 2017 12:30 am

Pinpointing the reason for the Quincy University men's basketball team's second-half demise in Thursday night's loss to Lewis is quite simple.

The defense disappeared.

Why that happened isn't so easily answered.

Was it a lack of urgency or a lack of energy?

It could have been either.

Start with the fact the Hawks seemed to play without a sense of urgency despite it being an elimination game in the quarterfinals of the Great Lakes Valley Conference Tournament. The Flyers scored on their first seven possessions of the second half and 10 of the first 12 times they had the ball.

Emotionally, the Hawks were unfazed by that.

It comes back to the fact this team has a track record for coming through in the clutch.

The Hawks were 4-1 in the regular season in games decided by two points or less. Senior forward Joe Tagarelli made two game-winning baskets in those situations, the most talked about one coming in the 76-75 victory over Rockhurst when he caught a length-of-the-floor pass from Evan McGaughey with 1.8 seconds remaining and scored before the buzzer sounded.

Quincy also rallied for an 85-81 victory over Missouri S&T, overcoming a four-point deficit with 2:33 to play by scoring the game's final eight points.

It perpetuated the notion this team could never be counted out.

Thursday night, the clock ran out on that idea.

Miles Simelton gave Lewis the lead with 6.3 seconds remaining, and the Flyers made two defensive stands thereafter. Delaney Blaylock blocked Herm Senor II's shot with 1.3 seconds remaining, and on the ensueing inbounds play, the Flyers swarmed Tagarelli and did not allow him to get a shot off.

It turned out to be an "oh, this is what can happen" moment.

But overconfidence isn't the only thing to fault. Weary legs may have played a part, too.

This season, the Hawks have outscored their opponents by an average of 8.2 points in the first half and just two points in the second half. Lewis owned a 40-31 edge in the second half Thursday night, shooting 58.1 percent from the field.

Quincy had a full week to prepare for the quarterfinal matchup, thanks to winning the GLVC West Division and receiving a first-round bye as the No. 2 seed. The Hawks should have come in well rested, except for the fact a season's worth of wear and tear may be starting to show.

Three starters average more than 30 minutes per game, and Tagarelli would average more than the 27.3 minutes he plays if he could avoid foul trouble.

The lack of depth is noticeable.

In the second half against Lewis, the starters each played at least 17 of the 20 minutes. Senor, who had nine points, six assists and no turnovers overall, didn't come off the floor once in the second half.

The bench played a grand total of 29 minutes and only eight in the second half.

In the regular-season finale at Truman State, Von Washington III's foul trouble dictated the need for Marcus Hinton to play 15 minutes off the bench in the second half. The rest of the reserves played just 10 minutes.

In the victory against Rockhurst, the bench had just 12 minutes in the second half. Senor played the entire 40 minutes that night and has played 35 or more minutes six times in the last 10 games.

Eventually, such substantial minutes will wear the Hawks done, if they haven't already.

They will have a week to rest, recoup and regroup before the NCAA Division II Midwest Regional begins. Although they aren't a lock for a postseason bid, the Hawks' 24-6 record and division title should land them one of the eight regional spots.

That's when they will get the opportunity to play with a sense of purpose and the kind of urgency that won't have anyone questioning whether they ran out of gas.