By BLAKE TOPPMEYER
Herald-Whig Sports Writer
SPRINGFIELD, Mo. -- Kelly Buresh reserved her judgment. The players on the Quincy University women's basketball team's bench didn't.
As soon as Buresh fired a 3-pointer from the left corner with 1 minute, 24 seconds remaining Saturday, the Lady Hawks on the sidelines reacted as if the shot was going in.
"The bench was saying it was in before it was in. So if it didn't go in, it was all the bench's fault," Buresh said with a laugh after QU's 68-62 Great Lakes Valley Conference win over Drury at the O'Reilly Family Event Center.
The bench was spot on. Buresh's 3-pointer splashed through the net to give QU a 64-60 lead. Drury turned the ball over on its ensuing possession, and Quincy's Maggie Cunningham and Lucy Cramsey combined to make four free throws in the final 43 seconds to polish off the Lady Hawks' sixth win in their last seven games.
Buresh led QU (7-7, 5-1) with 15 points. She sat out Quincy's 74-53 loss at Missouri S&T on Thursday with concussion-like symptoms that lingered from a blow to the head she suffered during a Jan. 12 game against Southern Indiana. Buresh gained clearance Saturday morning to play against Drury.
"It was hard to watch (Thursday) because I wanted to be out there helping," Buresh said.
Buresh was 5 of 9 from 3-point range Saturday and is shooting 40.5 percent from beyond the arc this season. That's why Drury coach Steve Harold was so frustrated Buresh was left wide open with the game in the balance.
Harold said he emphasized Buresh's 3-point prowess to his team before the game and then reiterated it at halftime after she made four first-half treys.
"She hit four others, but I guess she had to validate it with under (two minutes) to go, (as if to say), ‘I can shoot. You want to guard me?'" said Harold, who expressed plenty of frustration after his team dropped to 8-7 and 2-5 in the GLVC.
"It's kind of like you're talking to a group that has no ears. They may hear noise, but they're not listening."
QU committed 22 turnovers for the second straight game, and the Lady Panthers netted 30 points off those turnovers.
The Lady Hawks overcame that with 55.6 percent shooting and balanced scoring.
Cramsey scored 14 points, Hannah Weedman added 13 and Felisha Loggins supplied 10. Quincy also claimed a 37-21 rebounding edge.
"We gutted it out," QU coach Jeni Garber said. "We didn't have spectacular play by any means."
QU went on a 10-0 run and led 42-32 after Cramsey made a jumper with just a few seconds left on the shot clock and 16 minutes, 23 seconds remaining in the game. It marked one of several occasions Cramsey scored or reached the free-throw line with the shot clock winding down, another item that puzzled Harold.
"You tell them, ‘With Cramsey, you have to give her a little room and contain her,'" Harold said. "What did we do? We got right up in her (butt) and got smoked."
Drury went on a 22-13 run to trim Quincy's lead to 59-58 with 3:23 to play. After a basket in the paint from Weedman, Katie Pritchard made a jumper with 2:35 remaining that cut Quincy's lead to 61-60.
Yet Quincy never allowed Drury to take the lead after halftime.
Bethanie Funderburk led Drury with 19 points, and Pritchard added 17.
"They're two very good offensive players," Garber said. "They can score in many different ways."
Garber has an all-league player of her own in Cramsey, who slid over from off-guard to point guard about midway through the first half after Quincy struggled to advance the ball past half court and get the offense started. Cramsey tallied a career-high nine assists and tied Loggins for a game high in rebounds with seven.
"(The goal) was to bring calmness to our offense and just get the ball up the floor," Cramsey said of moving to point guard. "We were doing a terrible job of that up to that point. And just bring some more confidence to us because we were knocked down early on."
Drury led 27-21 before the Lady Hawks started to limit their turnovers a bit and closed the first half on an 11-2 run.
"We're happy we're kind of back on track," Cramsey said.