QUINCY -- The decision to double down led to the Quincy University men's basketball team finally hitting the jackpot.
Leading by three points at halftime Thursday night, the Hawks chose to double-team Maryville forward Ross Ryan when he caught the ball in the post, sending a guard charging at him in hopes the 6-foot-9 sophomore would make a poor decision trying to kick the ball out.
The Hawks cashed in every time it happened, starting with the first possession of the second half.
Ryan caught an entry pass on the left block and started to back down QU's Tanner Stuckman before Hawks guard Ryan Briscoe sprinted at him. Ryan tried to fire a pass to the top of the key, seeing it intercepted by QU's Charles Callier and turned into a breakaway dunk that kickstarted a 17-0 run and propelled the Hawks to an 87-67 victory in Great Lakes Valley Conference play at Pepsi Arena.
"He's a well-respected post player in the GLVC and we had give him that respect," Callier said. "We had to double him and make him pass out of it. That's when we attacked."
The Hawks were relentless doing that.
"We make a play, get out and score and grab the momentum," QU coach Ryan Hellenthal said. "Now we're flying around."
Quincy (7-5, 1-3 GLVC) scored on seven of its first nine possessions of the second half with Briscoe hitting a pair of 3-pointers in the run, while holding Maryville scoreless on its first nine possessions. The Saints missed four shots and turned the ball over five times, twice by Ryan when he was flustered by a double-team.
"Everyone did their assignments," said Briscoe, who finished with 12 points, seven assists and four rebounds. "Everyone stuck to the game plan. Everyone bought in. Next thing you know, we're up 15."
Quincy didn't settle for that. The lead grew to as many as 28 points as the Hawks shot 52.6 percent from the field in the second half and held the Saints to 36.4 percent shooting.
Maryville forward Jalen Gant scored 11 points in the first half, but was shut out in the second half. Saints guard Parker Long had just three of his 15 points in the second half.
"We're not going to make shots like we did in the second half every night, but defense travels," Hellenthal said. "If you can have defense like that every single night, you have a chance to win."
Seizing the momentum helps in that regard, too.
Ryan cut the Hawks' lead in half in the closing seconds of the first half when he made a 3-pointer from the top of the key. He hadn't attempted a 3-pointer this season prior to that, so the Hawks weren't overly concerned about it being a tide-turner.
"We knew it was kind of fool's gold," Briscoe said.
So it didn't rattle anyone.
"We stayed calm and we stayed poised," Briscoe said. "That's big for us."
It's not something the Hawks have been particularly successful doing.
"We've been in that situation before and not come out on the right side of it," Hellenthal said. "We came out with toughness and the defensive mindset this team has to play with."
The defense was pretty stout throughout. QU forced 15 turnovers, limited Maryville (4-7, 0-4 GLVC) to two points in transition and held Saints guard Zach Colletta, who averages 11 points per game, to just two points.
"We knew we were controlling the game defensively," Briscoe said.
The Hawks got everyone involved offensively, too. Stuckman finished with 20 points and Callier had 19, while Austin Downing had 13 points and six assists and the bench contributed 17 points and five assists.
"We worked so hard this week," Callier said. "There were times it was in our mind, ‘Should we be practicing this hard since we have a game coming up?' But all the work we put in really paid off."
It got a five-game homestand started the right way as well. Missouri S&T, which suffered an 86-60 loss at Truman State on Thursday, visits Pepsi Arena at 3:15 p.m. Saturday with the Hawks looking for their first weekend sweep of the season.
"Now can we get back on the horse (Friday) and get ready for Saturday?" Hellenthal said. "There's a feeling in that locker room that we have a heck of an opportunity on Saturday to get another one."
Quincy 87, Maryville 67
MARYVILLE (4-7 0-4 GLVC)
P. Long 6-11 1-1 15, Ross 7-14 0-0 15, Gant 2-5 5-6 11, Colletta 1-5 0-0 2, McDaniel 1-8 0-0 2, O. Long 3-10 0-0 9, White 3-4 0-0 8, Barnett 1-1 1-2 4, Williams 0-2 1-2 1, Eze 0-1 0-0 0, Pendleton 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 24-61 8-11 67.
QU (7-6, 1-3 GLVC)
Stuckman 9-18 2-2 20, Callier 7-10 2-2 19, Downing 6-10 0-1 13, Briscoe 4-8 0-0 13, Fadika 3-4 0-0 6, Kovacevic 4-11 2-2 11, Moore 2-4 0-0 6, Champagne 0-2 0-2 0, Warren 0-1 0-1 0, Garvie 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 35-68 6-7 87.
Halftime--QU 39-36. 3-point field goals--Maryville 11-22 (O. Long 3-6, Gant 2-2, P. Long 2-3, White 2-3, Ryan 1-1, Barnett 1-1, Colletta 0-1, Williams 0-2, McDaniel 0-3), QU 11-28 (Briscoe 4-7, Callier 3-6, Moore 2-4, Downing 1-3, Kovacevic 1-3, Warren 0-1, Stuckman 0-2, Champagne 0-2). Rebounds--Maryville 29 (White 6), QU 41 (Fadika 10). Assists--Maryville 10 (three with 3), QU 23 (Briscoe 7). Blocked shots--Maryville 1 (Gant), QU 1 (Briscoe). Turnovers--Mayrville 15, QU 14. Fouls--Maryville 13, QU 12. Fouled out--none.