BY BLAKE TOPPMEYER
Herald-Whig Sports Writer
It would be a pretty safe move to drop the guard portion from Tyler Thompson's guard/forward position listing on the Quincy University men's basketball team's official roster.
With QU's 6-foot-7 freshman forward Dalton Hoover sidelined by injury and 6-10 sophomore center Drake Vermillion limited by foul trouble and ineffectiveness, the Hawks turned to Thompson to man the center position for most of Saturday's game against Lindenwood.
Thompson, a 6-5 fifth-year senior, gave QU the toughness it needed in an 81-74 non-conference victory at Pepsi Arena.
"Over the years, I've prided myself on playing where my team needed me," Thompson said. "I'm not labeled, and I like that. I don't want to be a specific position. I've played the three. I've played the four. I've played the five."
Vermillion started at center for QU (3-2) but played just three minutes in the first half because he picked up two quick fouls. He played seven minutes overall.
Thus, Thompson spent the majority of the game guarding Lindenwood's 6-11 center Brett Thompson, a transfer from Division I Saint Louis, or 6-8 forward Efkan Eren. Lindenwood's big men combined for 11 points and three rebounds.
Meanwhile, Brett Thompson guarded Tyler Thompson for much of the game, but the QU senior still netted 15 points and had a team-high six rebounds.
"Tyler is a competitor, so I can throw anything at him, and he's going to take it and figure it out," QU coach Marty Bell said.
Lindenwood (4-1) had a 49-44 lead before Tyler Thompson made a basket in the paint with 10 minutes, 5 seconds to play.
That launched a 9-0 QU run that was capped by the first of two second-half 3-pointers from Scott Hahn. The Hawks never surrendered the lead after that spurt.
Hahn made 6 of 7 field-goal attempts and scored a game-high 21 points off the bench. Hahn is now 8 of 12 from 3-point range.
"This year I've just been trying to take good threes," said Hahn, a 6-6 sophomore forward who also gave QU toughness down low. "I don't want to force them. When I have an open look, that's when I'm going to shoot. ... Coach Bell puts me in a good position to hit those threes, and I'm pretty open. You should make your open shots, and I've been doing pretty well on that."
Chris Babbitt supplied 16 points for QU and was 6 for 6 at the free-throw line in the final 48 seconds to help seal the win.
Jordan Wilson gave QU 11 points off the bench as the Hawks' bench outscored Lindenwood's 39-27.
Babbitt, Thompson and Hahn are QU's three leading scorers for the season, and Saturday marked only the second time this season that more than one member of that trio was in double figures.
The 52 points they combined for against Lindenwood was the most the trio has supplied in any game this year.
"All three of us were really clicking, able to get to the basket and looking for each other," Thompson said.
QU turned the ball over four times in its first nine possessions, and that played a role in Lindenwood opening on a 15-5 run. The Hawks closed the half with a 25-11 run to take a 30-26 halftime lead.
"We're really getting better," Hahn said. "At the beginning of the year, I don't think we beat these guys."
The Hawks attacked Lindenwood with plenty of ball screens. The Lions were switching on screens, and QU took advantage of mismatches created from those switches several times.
It helped that Thompson was having his way down low.
"They exposed us in some areas," Lindenwood coach Brad Soderberg said. "I thought they used their undersized big guys to cause problems with our bigger big guys."
Bell said he plans on using Thompson more in that center position in the future.
"Get used to it," Bell said.