By BLAKE TOPPMEYER
Herald-Whig Sports Writer
The Quincy University men's basketball team needed a jolt of life.
The Hawks received it from Nate Des Jardins and Austin Weber, a couple reserves who were not often used in the first half of the season.
With Des Jardins pumping his fists and imploring his teammates to get fired up and Weber flashing a 3-point sign to the crowd after making a key trey, the Hawks found life in the first half Saturday. QU overcame an early 12-point deficit to beat William Jewell 83-60 in a Great Lakes Valley Conference game at Pepsi Arena.
"Me and Austin, we bring energy," said Des Jardins, QU's freshman guard who had season highs of seven points, three assists and 22 minutes played. "I take that on as my own role, and I think Austin does too – just to bring juice, bring the energy to all the guys and pump everyone up and get everyone going."
Des Jardins played just 15 minutes total through the season's first 13 games, but in the last four games, he's averaging 16.5 minutes per game. He led a scoring attack from QU's reserves, who outscored WJC's bench 22-14.
"Our bench did a nice job giving us energy and actually helping us sustain a lead or build leads," QU coach Marty Bell said. "Nate has gone from scout team all the way to playing 22 minutes in a game."
QU (8-9, 3-6) trailed 9-0 when Des Jardins came in with 16 minutes, 36 seconds remaining in the first half to replace Grant Meyer, who had just picked up his second foul.
WJC's lead swelled to 12-0 on a 3-pointer from Cyril Bilong, and it appeared the Hawks might be headed for their seventh loss in their last eight games.
Instead, Quincy closed the half on a 36-17 run and rolled from there. Weber entered with 13:30 left in the first half and quickly made a 3-pointer to close QU's deficit to 14-10.
Weber formed a circle with his index finger and thumb, making a circle, and extended his other three fingers to flash the 3-point sign. Soon, Des Jardins and senior guard Ryan Stuckman were flashing 3-point signs after draining triples of their own.
"Honestly, it's just how we've been in practice all year," Weber said of himself and Des Jardins. "Me and him have been playing together, and we know when we go in, we're both high-energy (players).
"He's yelling, I'm yelling, and we feed off of each other. And I really believe the team feeds off of that too."
By the time QU senior forward Tyler Thompson slammed down a two-handed dunk off a feed from Scott Hahn with 48 seconds to play, the Hawks had let go of plenty of the frustration resulting from Thursday's 72-70 loss to Rockhurst.
"It was a stamp at the very end," Thompson said of the dunk.
Thompson scored a game-high 20 points, with Chris Babbitt and Stuckman adding 18 points and 15 points, respectively.
Stuckman was 3 of 4 from 3-point range to help the Hawks tie a season-high with 8-pointers on just 13 attempts.
The Hawks limited WJC (8-9, 4-5) to 38 percent shooting, including 24 percent from 3-point range.
It all added up to what was arguably Quincy's finest performance of the season, and one that came less than 48 hours after QU had dropped a game against a team that was riding a 13-game losing streak.
"This was a great booster for us," Thompson said. "Yes, we lost a devastating game (Thursday), but we answered. And that's what college basketball is all about, and I'm proud of these guys because we answered through adversity.
"We're fighters. We always come back from devastation."