There is a stark realization the Quincy University men's basketball players have to come to grips with and accept if they want to steer this season in the right direction.
The Hawks aren't a 3-point shooting team.
The way they attacked No. 1-ranked Bellarmine offensively in the first eight minutes of Thursday night's Great Lakes Valley Conference would suggest they think differently, but the numbers tell the true story.
Four of Quincy's first five shots were from 3-point range, and after sophomore forward Tanner Stuckman made a 3-pointer on the Hawks' first possession, they proceeded to miss six straight perimeter attempts. Overall, they were 6 of 24 from 3-point range in a 99-58 loss at Knights Hall.
It's the third straight game in which the Hawks shot 25 percent or worse from 3-point range and continued a disturbing trend. Quincy is 3-8 against NCAA Division II competition this season -- the Hawks are 4-0 against NAIA or NCAA Division III foes -- and has shot less than 30 percent in six of those games.
Heading into Saturday's game at Southern Indiana, the Hawks are shooting just 30.5 percent from 3-point range this season, which ranks last in the GLVC by a considerable margin. The teams ranked third through 13th in the league shoot between 37.3 and 34.8 percent before the dropoff to Quincy.
"It's not just the percentage that concerns me," QU coach Ryan Hellenthal said exasperatedly after the Bellarmine loss. "It's that we aren't taking good shots."
That's because a majority of the 3-pointers the Hawks have launched lately aren't in the rhythm of the offense.
In the last three games, Quincy had just seven assists against Bellarmine, 12 in the loss at Lewis and nine against Indianapolis. The Hawks are last in the GLVC in assists (11.3 per game) and last in assist-to-turnover ratio, which explains much of the inconsistency.
Saturday's game ends a four-game road trip to begin 2019, and of the six halves the Hawks have played so far, only one qualifies as a quality effort. In the second half last Saturday at Lewis, Quincy trimmed a 17-point halftime deficit to six on three separate occasions by getting the ball to the paint and not settling for threes.
The Hawks were 3 of 6 from 3-point range in the second half of what ended up being a 75-63 loss, but they shot 59.1 from the field those final 20 minutes and had Hellenthal believing they had figured out how to be efficient offensively.
Then came the chuck-it-from-the-cheap-seats show at Bellarmine and more head scratching.
The Hawks are 14 of 63 from 3-point range on the road trip -- that's 22.2 percent -- and have veered greatly from the kind of offense that led to a signature victory back in November.
Quincy attempted just eight 3-pointers in a 76-63 victory over Missouri Western and made a tide-turning run without a trey. Tied at 36 in the second half, the Hawks went a 17-7 burst by scoring six baskets in the paint. They never surrendered the lead.
Two games later, at home against William Jewell in the GLVC opener, the Hawks were 8 of 20 from 3-point range, but the 11-2 run to close the first half that gave them the lead for good featured eight points in the paint.
It was the last time Quincy beat a D-II opponent.
Hellenthal and his staff have altered the starting lineup, decreased certain players minutes and sat players for poor shot selection. With injuries and illness limiting the Hawks' depth, there aren't many better options.
So the challenge becomes internal. The Hawks have to take it upon themselves to quit acting like a 3-point shooting team and follow the blueprint that made them competitive early in the season.
It needs to an inside-out world the Hawks are living in to avoid a long road home.