Last Thursday, with the Quincy University women's basketball team trailing Maryville 47-27 at halftime, Hawks coach Jeni Garber sent her starters to the bench and gave her reserves extended minutes.
Kennedy Prince took advantage of the opportunity.
A junior transfer from Rend Lake College who is a Rock Island Alleman product, Prince finished with a team-leading 15 points, going 4 of 6 from the field, 3 of 4 from 3-point range and 4 of 4 from the free-throw line. Add in two steals and a blocked shot and it was undeniably the best performance of her season.
"When I was out there, I felt I was going hard and helping my teammates out and giving them opportunities," Prince said.
It was the kind of effort that breeds confidence.
"I always had confidence in myself," Prince said. "They gave me an opportunity and I was able to go out there and prove myself a little bit."
It earned her more minutes. Saturday against Missouri-St. Louis, Prince played 18 minutes with two assists and one steal. She didn't score, but her defense was locked in and she handled the ball and pressure without a turnover as the Hawks bounced back with a 77-65 victory.
It was the kind of effort she hoped to see from herself and her teammates.
"I think it will carry over well," Prince said Thursday night after the second-half spirited effort from the bench. "Mentally, we're there. If we keep playing hard, it will carry over well."
Prince is averaging 2.8 points and 1.3 rebounds, but her increased minutes and spirited play helped the Hawks end a four-game losing streak.
"We had to come out and play with more energy," Prince said. "We had to play hard. We were down, which meant we had to come out and play harder."
Top of the charts
The Hawks are one of seven Great Lakes Valley Conference teams to have made at least 100 3-pointers this season, and Quincy has two of the league's top three 3-point shooters.
Sophomore guard Aleksandra Petrovic tops the charts, shooting 58.6 percent from beyond the arch. Senior guard Michaela Gronewold is third at 46.7 percent, a number that dipped during the Hawks' four-game skid when she went from the No. 1 shooter in the nation to 11th.
Gronewold went 2 of 16 from 3-point range over a five-game span, beginning with the victory at Indianapolis and the four losses that followed. She righted herself last Saturday against UMSL by going 2 of 4 from 3-point range as part of a career-high 23-point performance. It was just the second time in the last five games she scored in double figures after hitting double digits in seven straight games.
Need to get to the line
Last Saturday against UMSL, the Hawks took advantage of their ability to get to the free-throw line. Maddie Spagnola went 13 of 14 and Gronewold was 9 of 10 as Quincy finished 25 of 28. The Hawks are second in the GLVC in free-throw shooting, hitting 74.9 percent. The problem is they have attempted just 223 free throws, which is lowest in the GLVC, and they average just 13 attempts per game.
Illinois-Springfield, which visits Pepsi Arena on Saturday, is the GLVC's top free-throw shooting team at 78.3 percent, and the Prairie Stars average 21.5 attempts per game. Illinois-Springfield has made more free throws (253) than Quincy has attempted.