By BLAKE TOPPMEYER
Herald-Whig Sports Writer
ROLLA, Mo. -- The Quincy University women's basketball team was supposed to battle Missouri S&T for first place in the Great Lakes Valley Conference's West Division on Thursday night.
Instead, the Lady Hawks wound up battling to make a blowout loss look a little more respectable.
The Lady Miners caused the Lady Hawks to commit 22 turnovers in claiming a 74-53 victory at the Bullman Multi-Purpose Building.
"It was just terrible," QU junior guard Lucy Cramsey said of the Lady Hawks' performance.
The result ended QU's five-game winning streak and gave Missouri S&T the lead in the West.
"I think (the Lady Miners) were ready to come out and show that they were the better team in this West Division and that we're the team to beat in the West Division," said S&T coach Alan Eads, whose team improved to 9-5 overall and 5-1 in the league.
QU (6-7, 4-1 GLVC) committed at least 20 turnovers for the eighth time this season, but the turnovers Thursday were especially costly because the majority of them came in simply trying to get the ball up the court or making a pass to the wing to start the offense.
That led to easy baskets for the Lady Miners, who scored 27 points off of the Lady Hawks' turnovers.
"We just tried to rush things and really tried to make (too long of) passes," QU coach Jeni Garber said. "Too many of our turnovers were out in the open court and led to them scoring layups. They were very easy points.
"We have to do a lot better job of taking care of the ball. We just were out of sync."
It didn't help that the Lady Hawks played without Kelly Buresh, a starting forward and the team's second-leading scorer at 11.8 points per game.
Buresh suffered a blow to the head during QU's 65-62 win over Southern Indiana. She was evaluated in Rolla but wasn't cleared to play because she was experiencing concussion-like symptoms.
Garber said Buresh's status is day to day, and she'll be re-evaluated in advance of QU's game Saturday at Drury (8-6, 2-4).
Cramsey said Buresh gives the Lady Hawks energy and that the team must do a better job to find a spark when she's off the floor.
"Kelly is huge for us," said Cramsey, who led QU with 14 points. "We realized that, but we also realized what we need to do and how we can change things."
One of QU's few bright spots was the play of freshman Carly Beebe. Making her first career start, Beebe scored 12 points on 4-of-6 shooting and committed just one turnover.
During QU's five-game winning streak, no opponent shot better than 36.5 percent. S&T made 60.9 percent of its field-goal attempts and was 6 of 10 from beyond the arc.
Toni Knar led the Lady Miners with 13 points off the bench, and Hailee Parks and Kyesha Hall supplied 11 points apiece.
The Lady Hawks trailed 41-22 at halftime before they stopped S&T on its first three second-half possessions. QU scored the first six points after halftime, cutting its deficit to 13.
"We did a good job at the beginning of the second half of getting stops," Garber said. "That's all we wanted to focus on was getting stops and going from there and getting good possessions on the offensive end."
Later, the Lady Hawks used an 8-0 run capped by five straight points from Maggie Cunningham to cut Missouri S&T's lead to 48-39 with 12 minutes, 35 seconds remaining.
However, QU followed that run up by turning the ball over on its next four possessions, and S&T went on an 18-0 run to seal the win.
"We sat in that locker room (afterward), and we understand how bad it was," Cramsey said. "You just have to get past it and move on to the next game."