Hawks dispatch East-West University as reaching potential remains work in progress - Muddy River Sports (2024)

QUINCY — First, some good news regarding the Quincy University men’s basketball team.

The Hawks turned back East-West University 84-52 on Saturday afternoon in front of a crowd of about 300 at Pepsi Arena in the first round of the two-day Hansen-Spear Holiday Classic.

The victory was impressive, even if it came against an overmatched and winless East-West club that is headquartered in downtown Chicago.

Secondly, and even better news, the most important side note to the win was that despite how dominating QU was for the last 25 to 30 minutes of the game it remains “a work in progress,” according to players and coach alike.

The proverbial ceiling for the Hawks remains a ways off, but within sight.

“We’re still not even close to where we will be,” said 6-foot-7 sophom*ore Jamil Wilson, who led the Hawks (6-5) in scoring with 15 points.

“Or where we can be,” QU coach Steve Hawkins said.

Hawkins felt the win over East-West, which is now 0-17 and has surrendered more than 100 points in eight of its setbacks, provided a perfect punctuation for where QU stands at the moment.

“We’ve shown how good we can be at times, but we have to keep working toward that level (we want to reach),” he said.

Hawkins anticipates — in a perfect world, of course — the Hawks will reach that point some time in January.

QU’s next step toward that goal comes Sunday when it plays Wayne State University at 3 p.m. to conclude the Hansen-Spear weekend schedule. At 1 p.m., East-West meets William Jewell, which lost to Wayne State in Saturday’s first game 76-72.

QU’s win over East-West was a perfect example of the Hawks’ ongoing maturation process.

Quincy struggled to find any rhythm much of the first half, but capitalized on a late run prior to intermission to lead 39-21. QU then scored the first 12 points of the second half and whatever doubt may have existed about the eventual outcome had officially been extinguished.

“We’re a young team still trying to find ways (to mesh), but I think we’re getting close to where we want to be,” said sophom*ore playmaker Isaiah Foster, who scored 10 points.

Foster’s course to success is much the same as his coach’s.

“I think we’ll probably be where we want to sometime in early January,” Foster said.

For the record, all 13 Hawks players played between 10 and 22 minutes, including Me’khai Taylor, who probably delivered the game’s most entertaining sequence of plays late in the second half.

Taylor, 6-foot-5 freshman from New Orleans, who had played just 33 minutes prior to Saturday, delivered three thundering slam dunks, each one drawing a bigger response from his teammates.

Taylor’s lively performance was typical of the way QU eventually took over control of the game’s flow.

“It’s important to bring the energy,” said QU freshman John Kelly, who also hails from New Orleans.

That “energy” Kelly spoke of was also evident in the improved defensive pressure QU applied as the game progressed. East-West fired up 10 air balls, and adding the Hawks’ six blocked shots, the Phantoms sent 17 attempts toward the basket that never arrived.

“In the second half, we had a better overall effort,” Hawkins said. “We looked disorganized in the first half and I have to take total responsibility for that.”

Hawkins said three days of practice last week were spent preparing for the resumption of Great Lakes Valley Conference play next month, leaving just one practice to devote to East-West and one session for Sunday’s opponent Wayne State (Mich.) University.

Once the Hawks were able to regroup, that potential Hawkins and his players like to talk about was able to step forward.

“Even though we’re young and inexperienced, we’ve shown how good we can be at different moments,” Hawkins said.

And that occurred in the second half.

“We were able to play more kids and get them more minutes than they might normally, and that should be beneficial (for the regulars) on Sunday,” Hawkins said. “Our players’ legs should be fresh Sunday.”

All 13 Hawks scored, 11 grabbed rebounds and 10 dished out at least one assist.

“Coach has put us in a good place to succeed,” said Kelly, who led QU in rebounding with 9 and also scored 9 points.

Ibrahim Drame (12) was Quincy’s other double-figure scorer. Mason Wijek (7) seconded Kelly in the rebounding column.

What might have been the most interesting team statistic saw Quincy shoot a respectable 51 percent from the field, a figure that included a woeful 3-for-24 from behind the 3-point stripe.

Hawks dispatch East-West University as reaching potential remains work in progress - Muddy River Sports (2024)
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