By BLAKE TOPPMEYER
Herald-Whig Sports Writer
The two most turnover-prone women's basketball teams in the Great Lakes Valley Conference squared off Monday night at Pepsi Arena.
Add the fact that Quincy University and Illinois-Springfield were both playing their third game in a five-day span, and it should come as no surprise that a somewhat sloppy game was the result. Nor should it be a surprise that the Lady Hawks claimed a 67-54 victory.
QU won for the seventh time in its last eight games. The majority of those Quincy victories haven't always been real pretty, but the Lady Hawks have found success by leaning on defense and rebounding.
The same was true against UIS.
"That was ugly, but I knew this was going to be an ugly game on both sides," QU coach Jeni Garber said. "It's (about) who can gut it out the most and who is just going to make the most amount of plays to win the game because three games in five days is tough on anyone."
QU improved to 8-7 overall and 6-1 in the GLVC. The Lady Hawks are now tied with Missouri S&T (10-5, 6-1) for first place in the GLVC's West Division. The Lady Hawks' overall record is above .500 for the first time this season.
"That's huge for us. We're finally over .500. We've finally reached that point," said QU freshman guard Maggie Cunningham, who had 13 points to match Felisha Loggins for the team high. "We can keep on going up from here. I think we've been at our all-time low and hit rock bottom. Now we're just building back up from it."
The Lady Hawks outrebounded UIS 33-29, marking the 12th time this season QU has outrebounded its opponent. Quincy is 8-4 in those games. The Lady Hawks have won the rebounding battle in 10 straight games.
UIS made 42.3 percent of its field-goal attempts. QU is 8-0 when holding its opponent at or below that 42.3 percent shooting mark.
"Our defense really stepped it up tonight," Cunningham said.
QU came into the game averaging 19.1 turnovers per game -- the second-highest mark in the league -- and committed 19 turnovers against UIS (4-11, 1-6). However, the Prairie Stars came into the game averaging 19.4 turnovers per game and turned the ball over 22 times. Quincy scored 21 points off of turnovers, compared to UIS's 12.
The Lady Hawks hedged on ball screens to handcuff the Prairie Stars' ball screen-oriented offense.
"We scouted their plays really well and got through all the ball screens that they set," Cunningham said. "They set so many ball screens."
Quincy led 13-12 after UIS's Mallory Beck made a layup with 13 minutes, 9 seconds remaining in the first half. The Lady Hawks closed the half on a 29-11 run to take a 42-23 halftime lead. During that run, UIS committed six turnovers, which QU turned into 10 points.
Quincy's lead never dipped below 13 points in the second half.
"We might have played sloppy, but we got on that great (first-half) run, and that put us ahead and we just kept it," QU forward Kara Gerbus said. "We didn't choke."
Gerbus scored eight points and Carly Beebe netted 10. Those two freshmen reserves combined to play 36 minutes, as Quincy's bench outscored the UIS reserves 23-12.
Hannah Weedman scored 12 points to give Quincy four players in double figures. UIS's Megan Bergerud scored a game-high 18 points.
Cunningham was Quincy's only starter to play more than 28 minutes, as Garber leaned on her bench much more than she did during the first two legs of this three-game stretch.
"The bench always has to be ready," Gerbus said. "That's what coach expects us to do."