By BLAKE TOPPMEYER
Herald-Whig Sports Writer
Ryan Stuckman couldn't complain about the look he got at the basket Thursday with a couple seconds left in regulation of the Quincy University men's basketball team's game against Rockhurst.
He only wished his shot would've went in.
Stuckman put up a contested right-handed layup from about 5 feet that caromed off the rim, closing the book on Quincy's 72-70 Great Lakes Valley Conference loss at Pepsi Arena.
"It was a great look. I should've finished it," said Stuckman, QU's senior guard. "That's one you'll dwell on for a long time, especially being a senior. We really needed that win. That's one that will stay with me for a while. It was contested and stuff, but it's one I should have made."
And it's a game Quincy (7-9, 2-6) needed to have. Rockhurst (2-13, 1-7) came into the game riding a 13-game losing streak.
"Overall, we'd been playing pretty solid basketball and had not been able to realize a victory," Rockhurst coach Bill O'Connor said. "So to play fairly solid and get a win -- especially on the road in the GLVC -- I hope they feel good about themselves. Because since Christmas, they've played really hard and they've played fairly well."
Truthfully, QU lost the game well before Stuckman's shot spun off the rim.
Rockhurst shot 12 of 19 (63.2 percent) from 3-point range and 53.8 percent from the field overall.
"We just did not impose our will defensively to the level we needed to to stop them," QU coach Marty Bell said.
Quincy led 29-23 after Tyler Thompson converted a conventional three-point play with 5 minutes, 10 seconds left before halftime. Rockhurst then scored the next 14 points in making an 18-2 that left Rockhurst leading 41-31 with 18:45 to play. RU's lead was 37-31 at halftime, and it never lost the lead.
"I told them at half, ‘That (late first-half run) was the most impressive thing you've done this year so far,'" O'Connor said. "That stretch from (when QU led 29-23) to the half was the difference in the ballgame."
Thompson scored a game-high 24 points, 17 of which came in the second half.
Thompson made a 3-pointer off a feed from Austin Weber just before the shot clock expired to cut Rockhurst's lead to 60-58 with 7:13 to play. Rockhurst followed with two empty possessions, giving Quincy a couple opportunities to tie or take the lead.
But after a Quincy turnover and a missed 3-pointer from Weber, Rockhurst responded with a 7-3 run.
Stuckman drained three free throws with 51 seconds remaining to cut QU's deficit to 72-70. Quincy then got a defensive stop, and Bell called a timeout with 19 seconds remaining to set up a play.
The ball was intended to go into the high post to Dalton Hoover, who was supposed to reverse it to Thompson for a potential shot. However, Brandon McCann hounded Quincy point guard Nate Des Jardins and got a hand on his pass to Hoover, resulting in a turnover.
Still, Quincy got another opportunity.
McCann, who scored a team-high 20 points, went to the free-throw line with seven seconds remaining. The 90.6 percent free-throw shooter missed the front end of a 1-and-1, and Thompson collected the rebound. The ball was advanced to Des Jardins on the left sideline, and he zipped a long cross-court pass to Stuckman, whose shot went off the backboard and hit the left side of the rim before falling off. QU's Chris Babbitt grabbed the rebound, but time expired before he got his shot off.
"It should have never come down to that (final shot)," Thompson said.
Thursday marked the third time this season a Quincy opponent made at least 11 3-pointers.
QU ranks last in the GLVC in 3-point percentage defense, with Quincy's opponents making 38.5 percent of their attempts from beyond the arc this season.
"If (opponents) are consistently shooting well from the 3-point line ... obviously they're comfortable," Thompson said. "We're not giving them enough pressure. It was a lack of defense for sure."
Babbitt had 16 points and a team-high eight rebounds in support of Thompson, and Hoover added 12 points off the bench.
QU lost for the sixth time in its last seven games and hosts William Jewell (8-8, 4-4) on Saturday.
"We've got to start taking stuff personal, so hopefully we'll take this loss personal and come in against Jewell and take it at them," Stuckman said.