Hawks unable to seal the deal once again

Posted: Jan. 5, 2013 9:48 pm Updated: Jan. 20, 2013 1:15 am

Herald-Whig Sports Writer

LEBANON, Ill. -- The Quincy University men's basketball team's second-half woes continued Saturday. Ultimately, it cost the Hawks another game.

QU watched a six-point halftime lead and 10-point second-half advantage evaporate as McKendree rallied for a 67-59 win at the Statham Center. It marked the first Great Lakes Valley Conference win for McKendree, a league newcomer.

"As a team, we have to work on coming out ready to go in the second half," QU senior forward Tyler Thompson said. "Even though the first half was OK, we didn't capitalize in the second half. We need to (play) two halves."

QU (6-5, 1-2 GLVC) has been outscored after halftime in five of its last six games, with the only exception coming in the Hawks' 93-58 win Sunday over Robert Morris-Springfield.

In those other five games, QU's opponents have outscored the Hawks 214-133 in the second half. QU led at halftime in all five of those games but lost three of them.

QU led McKendree 36-26 after Chris Babbitt made a shot from the right baseline with 18 minutes, 27 seconds remaining in the second half.

The Bearcats (7-5, 1-1) responded with a 19-9 run, tying the game at 45 on Clinton Happe's putback basket with 8:35 to play.

"I really liked their heart," McKendree coach Harry Statham said of his Bearcats. "When we went down 10 in the second half and came back. I thought that showed a lot of character."

McKendree took the lead for good when Mike DiGregorio drained a 3-pointer from the top of the key with 3:09 to play.

"We didn't have a sense of urgency (after halftime)," Thompson said.

DiGregorio scored 19 points, 13 of which came in the final 3:09. He was joined in double figures by teammates John Steppe (22 points), Matt Murphy (14 points) and Happe (12 points).

Chris Babbitt led QU with 16 points, and Scott Hahn supplied 10 points off the bench. The Hawks' bench outscored McKendree's 25-0.

QU's T.J. Riggs came off the bench to score nine points in 22 minutes, both career highs.

No Hawk played more than 27 minutes, as QU coach Marty Bell tinkered with player combinations.

QU limited McKendree to 36.5 percent shooting but was hurt by 19 turnovers.

The Hawks' defense let up after halftime, with McKendree making 42.3 percent of its second-half field-goal attempts. The Bearcats also outscored QU 22-8 at the free-throw line.

"We turned the ball over too much and gave them some easy scores," QU coach Marty Bell said. "And offensively, we just sputtered.

"They drove countless times to the basket with no resistance. It's just disappointing to see that kind of defensive effort when we knew the game was on the line."

Steppe scored six points during McKendree's second-half run that turned the tide.

A 6-foot-4 senior guard, Steppe spent most of the game playing in the post as he provided the Bearcats another presence in the paint.

McKendree lost its top post player, David Ruckman, to a season-ending foot injury the second game of the season.

"We don't have any size," Statham said. "(Steppe) is our (second)-biggest (available) guy at 6-4. He's versatile."

Steppe certainly didn't look out of place playing against QU's more sizable front line. He made 7 of 12 field-goal attempts, making him the only Bearcat to make at least half of his shots.

"He went to the rim like I wished we would've at times," Bell said. "That's something we have to learn from."




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