By BLAKE TOPPMEYER
Herald-Whig Sports Writer
ST. LOUIS -- A week and a half ago, the Maryville women's basketball team faced significant adversity when it lost Abby Duethman, the team's leading scorer and rebounder, for the season due to a knee injury.
The Saints responded by prevailing in the game Duethman was hurt in and then winning two of their next three games.
After the Saints whipped Quincy University 86-63 in Great Lakes Valley Conference action on Saturday at Moloney Arena, it's now time to see how the Lady Hawks will handle their latest round of adversity.
The Lady Hawks will take a four-game losing streak into Thursday's regular-season finale at Illinois-Springfield.
Maryville's victory, coupled with losses by Missouri S&T and Missouri-St. Louis, makes the Saints the GLVC West Division champions. This comes after the Lady Hawks spent nearly the entire GLVC campaign leading the division and led by a full two games after QU beat Maryville 68-56 on Feb. 2.
"It definitely hurts," QU sophomore forward Kelly Buresh, who scored 11 points, said of the Lady Hawks squandering its West lead. "But I think we played better under pressure when we were the underdogs. So maybe it's a good thing for us."
Maryville's defense gave QU (13-12, 11-6) fits the final 34 minutes after the Lady Hawks opened up a 10-9 lead early.
Even in Duethman's absence, Maryville shot 57.4 percent from the field and carved up the Lady Hawks in the second half, when Maryville scored 53 points. Maryville's 86 points marked the most points QU has allowed in a game this season.
"They were hot," QU coach Jeni Garber said. "They hit everything."
Maryville (16-9, 12-5) put four players in double figures, led by Kate Childs' 18 points and Brittnye McSparron's 17 points.
"Obviously we miss Abby, but everyone else has stepped up," Maryville coach Chris Ellis said. "Everybody has responded. It's strange how that works sometimes."
Maryville threw constant double teams at QU 6-foot-4 junior center Hannah Weedman any time she touched the ball in the low post. QU couldn't exploit that, partly because it went 5 of 21 (23.8 percent) from 3-point range. Weedman scored nine points and was 2 of 9 from the field, two days after she scored 18 points on 9-of-13 shooting in QU's 79-70 loss to Missouri-St. Louis.
In addition, McSparron -- a lock-down defender and a transfer from Division I Drake -- blanketed QU's season-leading scorer Lucy Cramsey, who had eight points and was 3 of 10 from the field.
QU shot 34.3 percent from the field and has been under 39 percent in every game during this four-game losing streak.
"We weren't hitting shots, and then we were giving up easy buckets on the defensive end," Buresh said.
Maryville led 33-26 at halftime but started its second-half runaway by getting two quick 3-pointers from Shelby Miller, its most prolific 3-point shooter, to start the second half.
"We just didn't come out with the same energy that we did in the first half," said Garber, whose team was led by Carly Beebe's 14 points. "We let them get six points right off on two possessions. You can't give a team like this any room or confidence. That got their confidence up, and ours went down."
Garber admitted her team's overall confidence isn't very high right now.
That makes QU's regular-season finale critical, if nothing more than to get some momentum going into the GLVC Tournament.
"We have to win that to get a decent seed in the conference tournament," Buresh said.