By BLAKE TOPPMEYER
Herald-Whig Sports Writer
Regan Bruenger did his best Ryan Stuckman impersonation at one point during the second half of Saturday's men's basketball game between Illinois-Springfield and Quincy University at Pepsi Arena.
Stuckman, QU's senior guard, drove down the lane about four minutes into the second half. Bruenger, UIS's junior guard, was waiting for him and drew a charge. Traditionally, it's Stuckman who is the master of drawing charges.
Stuckman, a Quincy Notre Dame alumnus and Bruenger, a Southeastern alumnus, are friends and were teammates during the 2010-11 season at John Wood Community College.
"I had a blast guarding him out there, and I know he probably did the same," Stuckman said. "It was a lot of fun."
They had a playful disagreement about the charge after the game, which QU won 78-75 in overtime.
"I still don't think it was a charge," Stuckman said after the game.
Asked about the play Monday, Bruenger said it was clearly a charge.
"He still doesn't know his basketball I guess," Bruenger joked. "That was a textbook charge."
Stuckman also deadpanned after the game that he doesn't ever remember Bruenger taking a charge at JWCC. Bruenger said Stuckman might have a point there.
"He's got a little something to that," Bruenger said. "I usually let him take all the charges because he got a kick out of taking charges. I'm not known for taking too many charges, but when an opportunity (presented) itself, I had to on him."
The former teammates spent much of the game defending one another. QU coach Marty Bell said he put Stuckman on Bruenger because he usually has Stuckman defend the opponent's top 3-point shooter.
"It was great getting back in a gym with Stuck," Bruenger said. "It's been a few years. It's all friends and fun off the court, but once we step on the court, I thought it was pretty evident we where both there for the same reason. It's kind of like a Magic Johnson and Larry Bird rivalry. We're definitely friends off the court, but it's all business when you get on the court."
Stuckman scored 16 points and was 4 of 9 from the field, including 3 of 5 from 3-point range. He added six rebounds. Bruenger tallied 13 points and was 4 of 13 from the field, including 3 of 8 from beyond the arc, and chipped in three assists.
Bruenger had plenty of fans on hand to watch him play in his return to West-Central Illinois, which was evident by the applause whenever he scored. He said he had family, friends and some former JWCC teammates in attendance.
"It seemed like all of Augusta came out to support me," Bruenger said. "It was awesome coming back and especially coming back and playing in the environment Quincy always has to play in at Pepsi Arena."
QU and UIS will play in Springfield, Ill., on Feb. 28.
"Hopefully we can get them at our place," Bruenger said.
Kennedy gets first start: QU's Jens Kennedy, a 6-foot-10 redshirt freshman forward, received his first career start Saturday. He scored 12 points and played 17 minutes, both career highs. He made 5 of 7 field-goal attempts and collected six rebounds.
The start was more notable because Kennedy hadn't appeared in two of QU's previous three games. Kennedy's offensive game is fairly advanced. Armed with a good baby-hook shot and solid midrange game, he's averaging 7.3 points per game in four games played.
"He had a good week of practice," Bell said of giving Kennedy the start. "We've been trying to bring Jens along and motivate him in different ways. It's a process, and I thought he responded. He's stayed the course, has continued to work and that's been the key. And now his work is being consistent, and now it needs to be rewarded."
Large crowd: A crowd of 854 was on hand for QU's Great Lakes Valley Conference opener vs. UIS. It was the largest turnout in five home games this year for the Hawks. The previous high mark was 695 for QU's season opener vs. Hannibal-LaGrange University.
The large crowd included a sizable student section that was active throughout the game.
"We had a great crowd," Bell said. "It was hostile."
Surprising Saints: GLVC coaches had a hard time deciding whether Drury or Missouri-St. Louis was the team to beat when voting in the GLVC's preseason poll. UMSL ultimately edged out Drury by one first-place vote and three points overall as the favorite in the GLVC West.
Maryville wasn't really in the conversation, getting ranked No. 5. Yet in the GLVC opener for both teams last Wednesday, Maryville junior guard Asa Toney scored a career-high 30 points to help the Saints win 72-65 in overtime at UMSL.
Maryville, which went 13-14 last season, is 8-1 heading into Saturday's game against Lindenwood.
Around the league: Drury senior guard Alex Hall was named the GLVC men's basketball Player of the Week on Monday. Hall scored 33 points on 10-of-12 shooting to help Drury win its GLVC opener 88-52 over Missouri S&T on Thursday. He was 9 of 10 from beyond the arc, which set a new Drury single-game record for three-pointers made in a game. This is the second career weekly honor for Hall. … Missouri S&T junior forward Kylie Cooper was named the GLVC women's basketball Player of the Week. She scored 16 points, made 7 of 10 field-goal attempts and grabbed seven rebounds to lead the Lady Miners to a 66-63 win over Drury on Thursday.