Women's College Basketball

Hawks bring about change with better start

Quincy UniversityŐs Aleksandra Petrovic faces pressure from llinois-SpringfieldŐs Lanie Hicks on a shot attempt at Pepsi Arena on Saturday, Jan. 18, 2020. | H-W Photo/Jake Shane
Jake Shane
By Herald-Whig
Posted: Jan. 19, 2020 12:10 am

QUINCY -- Open and honest dialogue is what the Quincy University women's basketball players and coaches asked of each other.

Amid preparations for Saturday's Great Lakes Valley Conference matchup with Illinois-Springfield, the Hawks gathered in their locker room to discuss the three-game losing streak they were mired in and the reasons why they continually stumble out of the gates.

It was a necessary and illuminating conversation.

"Everyone was engaged and everyone was listening to what each other had to say," senior forward Alexa Low said. "It was very productive, and we knew when we came out of it we would be a different team (Saturday)."

Like 180 degrees different.

The Hawks scored the game's first nine points, led 17-5 after Dami Adeyinka banked in a 3-pointer to end the first quarter and withstood a furious fourth-quarter rally by the Prairie Stars to pick up a 78-72 victory at Pepsi Arena.

QU (6-9, 2-5 GLVC) had trailed at the end of the first quarter in each of the previous three games, getting outscored by a combined total of 60-31 in those three quarters.

"We all came in with open minds and we all were willing to change what didn't work," said senior forward Ella Gobald, who finished with 17 points and eight rebounds. "It showed because we gave the first punch. It was definitely settling. We were able to be consistent with our flow and let the game come to us."

It started with the very first shot.

Sophomore guard Amanda Porth caught the ball on the left wing on the game's opening possession and watched her defender drop off. With at least 5 feet of space being given, Porth took a dribble and buried a 17-foot jumper.

"It lifted a lot of pressure off some players when Amanda steps up and hits that shot," QU coach Jeni Garber said. "It just kind of put everyone at ease. We followed that by getting some defensive stops. Once we did that, we were able to go."

The Prairie Stars failed to score on their first seven possessions, turning the ball over once and missing seven consecutive shots. They didn't score until nearly five minutes had elapsed and didn't get to the free-throw line until the second quarter.

Illinois-Springfield came in averaging a GLVC-best 16.6 made free throws per game and were attempting 22.9 free throws per game. They finished 17 of 20 from the line, but they were 8 of 9 in the fourth quarter when they were already down by 14.

"We said if we kept them off the free-throw line we'd be fine," said Low, who scored a career-high 22 points with 11 rebounds for her second double-double of the season. "All of our guards knew we were going to give them the three, but we had to take away the driving lanes and their ability to draw fouls."

Low's looming presence took away some of those drives and contributed to the Prairie Stars shooting just 33.8 percent from the field.

The 6-foot-1 Low had four blocks in the first quarter and finished with a single-game school-record eight blocks, giving her two of the top five single-game efforts in program history.

"She was intimidating back there," Gobald said.

It helped to have the QU guards funnel attackers to her as they took away driving lanes. It's how the Hawks limited the Prairie Stars to 39 points through three quarters and 5-of-17 shooting from 3-point range overall.

"It was a total team effort," Garber said. "They were all there for each other and the girls lifted each other up. It's how we want to play and need to play."

Quincy University 78, University of Illinois-Springfield 72

ILLINOIS-SPRINGFIELD (6-9, 1-6 GLVC)

Ladowski 4-17 11-13 19, Fortune 5-9 0-0 11, Sangster 5-13 6-7 17, Weber 0-4 0-0 0, Rosner 3-6 0-0 6, Fee 5-9 0-0 12, Mitchell 2-4 0-0 4, Jackson 1-10 0-0 3, Smith 0-1 0-0 0, Hicks 0-1 0-0 0, Roth 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 25-74 17-20 72.

QU (6-9, 2-5 GLVC)

Petrovic 3-6 4-8 10, Gobald 3-11 9-10 17, Lantz 1-3 6-6 8, Porth 1-3 0-0 2, Low 8-19 6-8 22, Adeyinka 3-5 3-4 12, Rivera 0-4 4-4 4, Merino 1-3 0-0 3, Nelson 0-2 0-0 0, Schraufnagel 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 20-57 32-40 78.

UIS 5 16 18 33--72

QU 17 20 16 25--78

3-point field goals--UIS 5-17 (Fee 2-2, Fortune 1-3, Sangster 1-4, Jackson 1-4, Mitchell 0-1, Hicks 0-1, Weber 0-2), QU 6-14 (Adeyinka 3-3, Gobald 2-7, Merino 1-2, Rivera 0-2). Rebounds--UIS 44 (Sangster 10), QU 46 (Low 11). Assists--UIS 11 (Ladowski 4), QU 14 (Gobald 3, Porth 3). Steals--UIS 8 (Ladowski 3, Sangster 3), QU 4 (Low 2, Petrovic 2). Blocked shots--UIS 2 (Rosner, Hicks), QU 10 (Low 8). Turnovers--UIS 11, QU 15. Fouls--UIS 29, QU 16. Fouled out--Sangster.