By BLAKE TOPPMEYER
Herald-Whig Sports Writer
Considering the Drury men's basketball team's prowess at piling up points and making 3-pointers, it's easy to forget how good the Panthers are defensively.
They provided a reminder Thursday night.
Drury, ranked No. 18 in NCAA Division II, limited Quincy University to 34-percent shooting and beat the Hawks 64-44 in Great Lakes Valley Conference action at Pepsi Arena.
It marked the fourth time this season Drury limited an opponent to fewer than 45 points. The Panthers, who lead the league in scoring offense and 3-point shooting percentage, also lead the GLVC in scoring defense, with opponents averaging only 61.5 points per game.
"Defense is what carries you," said Drury coach Steve Hesser, whose team won its 10th straight game.
QU's 44 points marked its lowest scoring output since a 62-38 loss at Lewis on Jan. 31, 2004.
It didn't help that the Hawks (10-12, 5-9) played most of the second half without senior forward Tyler Thompson, its second-leading scorer.
Thompson landed on the foot of a Drury player after he attempted a 3-pointer just after play had been stopped for a foul with 13 minutes, 19 seconds remaining in the second half. Thompson dropped to the ground in pain and remained on the floor for a few minutes.
Early indications are that Thompson sprained his left ankle. Thompson said he has a screw in his left ankle and has had surgery on that ankle in the past. Thompson is doubtful for Saturday's game against Missouri S&T, QU coach Marty Bell said.
"It was kind of tough (playing without Thompson)," said QU junior guard Babbitt, who scored a team-high 15 points on 7-of-14 shooting. "In times like that, we have to learn how to come together. We have to mature and come together and pick him up. We can't always just count on him."
QU trailed 44-35 when Thompson exited and trimmed Drury's lead to six points after a 3-pointer from Babbitt with 12:39 remaining. After that, Quincy went 3 of 16 from the field.
"(Thompson) and Chris, that's who we depend on to get us points," Bell said. "When half of that goes, it becomes (difficult). We're already struggling to score the ball, and now it becomes even more difficult. I thought that hurt us down the stretch."
Drury (18-4, 12-2) opened the game on a 12-2 run, with Alex Hall making three 3-pointers during that stretch. Hall finished with a game-high 25 points and made 5 of 10 3-point attempts.
Quincy, however, battled back and closed the half on a 20-7 run to take a 29-28 halftime lead.
Drury tightened up defensively in the second half, when QU shot only 24 percent from the field. Quincy committed a season-high 24 turnovers, leading to 20 points for Drury.
"It slipped away because of our offensive inefficiency tonight, because holding them to 64 points was a monumental achievement," Bell said. "We shot ourselves in the foot (offensively). There's no one to blame but us."
Quincy remains in need of wins as it tries to hang on for one of the 12 bids for the GLVC Tournament. The Hawks would be in the tournament field at No. 11 if it started today, but they don't have much margin for error.
"We have four games left, and they're all big," Babbitt said.