Schuck's Clipboard

Signature victory start of good things for Hawks

Posted: Feb. 8, 2020 1:10 am

The emotion was raw, real and surprisingly easy to move past. That's a credit to the Quincy University men's basketball players' character.

The Hawks allowed their frustration, exasperation and disappointment to spill forth following last Saturday's 70-68 overtime loss to Rockhurst. They were upset with the officiating, some missed opportunities in the closing minutes of both regulation and overtime and losing in general.

By Monday, when preparations began for Thursday's game against No. 13 Missouri-St. Louis, they shed their angst and turned their focus forward.

They never allowed themselves to be hijacked by emotion.

"We knew what we had to do," junior guard Charles Callier said. "We put our effort into that."

They showed up Thursday night full of vim, vigor and vitality.

"To come out here with even better energy than we had on Saturday was tremendous for our guys," QU coach Ryan Hellenthal said.

It led to a signature moment.

The Hawks locked in defensively, showed patience and poise offensively and beat a ranked team in Pepsi Arena for the first time since December 2009 with a 67-57 victory over the Tritons.

It's the first major upset for one of Hellenthal's teams and another sign of the progress the Hawks are making in his third season at the helm.

It can't be the last step in the process. The next step is equally important.

"We've got some big games coming up. This isn't going to be the only one," junior forward Tanner Stuckman said. "This doesn't define our season. We're still trying to make the tournament, and to make the tournament, we have to win big-time games. This is just a stepping stone."

The Hawks wrap up a four-game homestand Saturday against Lindenwood before hitting the road for five of the final six regular-season games. Three of those games are against opponents currently in the top eight of the Great Lakes Valley Conference's point rating system.

Any victory against Indianapolis, Bellarmine or Southwest Baptist would be as big a boon as beating UMSL was.

"This give us confidence," junior guard Ryan Briscoe said. "We have a hard schedule with a lot of away games. We have to play two of the top five teams in the conference on the road. Going into a place like Bellarmine, most people are scared just because of who it is.

"But we beat the No. 1 team, so it gives us confidence going into those games. And down the stretch, this is huge for us."

Huge, but not overwhelming. The Hawks celebrated the victory in stride, showing only a spattering of emotion and turning the page forward almost immediately.

"That's a big step for us," Hellenthal said. "We didn't act like we won the national championship. Our guys are expecting to win."