By BLAKE TOPPMEYER
Herald-Whig Sports Writer
The Quincy University women's basketball team entered halftime of Saturday's game against Missouri S&T looking like it was about to put a stranglehold on its lead in the Great Lakes Valley Conference's West Division.
Instead, the Lady Hawks are left clinging to the slightest of advantages.
The Lady Miners overcame a 10-point halftime deficit to steal a 59-54 win at Pepsi Arena. QU (13-10, 11-4) maintains a one-game lead over Maryville and S&T for the West's top spot with three games remaining. The top team in the West receives a bye in the first round of the GLVC Tournament.
However, S&T (14-9, 10-5) holds the tiebreaker against Quincy, and the Lady Hawks must beat Maryville on Saturday or the Saints also will hold the tiebreaker against QU.
"We have to sweep all three of those (remaining games) to be looking at the top," QU freshman guard Maggie Cunningham said. "I don't think we can afford another loss."
It didn't have to be this precarious for Quincy.
The Lady Hawks led 29-15 after Kelly Buresh drained a 3-pointer with 1 minute, 39 seconds remaining in the first half. S&T responded with a 17-0 run that included the Lady Miners scoring the first 13 points of the second half. QU never regained the lead.
"That was the game right there," QU coach Jeni Garber said. "They came out with as much energy as we came out with in the first half (when QU started on a 12-2 run).
"That was a quick run for them, and we didn't come out with much life or energy. We have to play 40 minutes. We're not a team that can only play 35 or 30 minutes."
Even so, QU had a chance to wriggle away with an escape act.
Felisha Loggins made a 3-pointer off of a dish from Lucy Cramsey to tie the game at 52 with 3:58 to play. After Hailee Parks made a pair of free throws to push S&T ahead by two, Loggins made a cut to the far side of the basket after getting a screen at the free-throw line, received a pass from Cunningham and scored. That tied the game at 54 with 1:20 remaining.
S&T's Katelyn Heil responded with a 3-pointer with 1:05 to play. QU called a timeout and set up the same play for Loggins going to the basket, with the option of kicking to Buresh for a 3-point attempt.
The Lady Miners were ready for that.
"They tried to run the backscreen again, which they had just got, and we talked about that in the huddle," S&T coach Alan Eads said. "But I really thought they'd run something for (Buresh) to get a three."
QU never got closer than about 18 feet from the basket on the possession and eventually turned it over.
"We panicked," Garber said.
S&T's Taylor Jensen made two free throws with 29 seconds remaining to seal the Lady Miners' season sweep over QU.
Buresh led QU with 17 points, with 13 of those coming in the first half. Loggins tallied 11 points and seven rebounds, and QU's Hannah Weedman had a career-high 14 rebounds.
Kyesha Hall led S&T with 12 points, but the Lady Miners received their biggest lift from their bench, which outscored QU's reserves 24-8.
"Our bench has been outscoring most people all year long," Eads said.
Quincy shot a season-worst 28.1 percent from the field and combined to shoot 30.4 percent from the field in a pair of home losses this week.
QU starters Cramsey, Weedman and Carly Beebe teamed up to make 3 of 29 field-goal attempts.
"We were getting some good looks at the basket, but they weren't falling," Garber said.