A 10-point lead on the road with less than eight minutes to play should have had the McKendree men’s basketball team positioned for a historic finish.
Instead, it turned into a forgettable collapse.
Quincy guard Herm Senor II scored 11 points in a 13-5 run that allowed Quincy to whittle a 69-59 deficit with 7 minutes, 38 seconds to play down to just 74-72 with 5:17 to go, and finished the comeback with a 3-pointer off a Joe Tagarelli kickout with 12 seconds to play.
That enabled the seventh-seeded Hawks to finish off an 87-80 victory over the 10th-seeded Bearcats in the first round of the Great Lakes Valley Conference Tournament on Sunday afternoon at Pepsi Arena.
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Quincy (19-9) advances to the GLVC quarterfinals for the first time since 2010 and will face second-seeded Drury at a time still to be determined on Friday at Family Arena in St. Charles, Mo.
“You know that’s going to happen if you don’t take care of the ball properly,” said McKendree coach Harry Statham, whose team reached the GLVC Tournament for the firdt time. “Shot selection and turnovers were huge at that point in the game. We could have done a little better in that category.”
Leading by as many as 16 points in the first half, Quincy allowed McKendree to whittle the deficit to five by halftime. And when the Hawks made just one of their first 11 shots of the second half, the Bearcats took their first lead at 48-46 on a Nate Michael jumper with 16:25 to go.
A four-minute tug-of-war with the lead ensued before McKendree’s John Murphy drilled a 3-pointer from the right wing, kickstarting a 15-5 run that put the Bearcats ahead 69-59.
You know that’s going to happen if you don’t take care of the ball properly. Shot selection and turnovers were huge at that point in the game. We could have done a little better in that category.
McKendree coach Harry Statham on Quincy’s come-from-behind win
The Hawks sensed a bitter end coming.
“You kind of see it all slipping away,” Quincy senior guard Nate Des Jardins said. “You don’t want to pack up the shoes. So you kind of get nervous. I kind of let that fear get to me a little tonight, and I’ve got to let that go. You can’t play that way.
“We get to go to St. Louis. That’s all that matters. We got to the next one.”
Senor made sure of it.
Coming out of the media timeout with 7:38 to go, he scored on back-to-back drives, turning the second one into a three-point play. Another drive led to another three-point play, and after setting up Evan McGaughey for a basket from the block, Senor drilled a 3-pointer from the left corner on a kickout from Tagarelli to make it a two-point game.
Senor’s 3-pointer from the top of the key with 3:31 to go tied the game at 76.
You kind of see it all slipping away. You don’t want to pack up the shoes. So you kind of get nervous. I kind of let that fear get to me a little tonight, and I’ve got to let that go. You can’t play that way.
Quincy senior Nate Des Jardins on facing a 10-point deficit in second half
“To be honest, Herm put us on his back for a little bit,” Des Jardins said. “He created some stuff. He got some layups. He created for some other guys.
“He got back in his groove.”
At the same time, the Hawks took the Bearcats out of their groove.
McKendree managed just two field goals in a 10-possession span and went 3 of 11 from the field in the final eight minutes.
“Once we got one stop, two stops, three stops in row with the buckets in between, that really sparked us,” Senor said. “It got us going and settled us down.”
McKendree shot 47 percent from the field overall and 52 percent in the second half, but the Bearcats were 4-for-16 from the field in the final 10 minutes.
McKendree forward David Franklin, the GLVC’s leading scorer at 21.5 points per game, finished with a game-high 27 points, but he scored only five points the final eight minutes with three missed shots and two turnovers.
“We have to have better shot selection with the lead like that,” Statham said. “We shot the ball too soon a few times. You can’t make those mistaskes and beat those kind of teams. That’s what it boils down to.”
Freshman Nate Michael finished with 13 points and junior Michael Jackson had 11. All of Michael’s points came in the second half.
Tied at 78 with 1:36 to go, Senor delivered a perfect post entry pass to Tagarelli, who scored from the right block to give the Hawks the lead. Des Jardins scored on a the next possession, turning a McGaughey steal into a layup.
On the Hawks’ next possession, Tagarelli outhustled the Bearcats’ David Newton to rebound a Von Washington III missed 3-pointer with 33.4 seconds left and Quincy clinging to an 82-80 lead.
Coming out of a timeout, the Hawks worked the ball to Tagarelli in the post, and when the double team came, he kicked it out to Senor for a 3-pointer that punctuated the victory.
“It’s OK to have emotions and we fought through out,” Senor said. “It’s about how you finish, and we definitely finished strong.”
And lived to play another day because of it.
“We can be all excited about this one and go to the next one and lose if we’re not careful,” Tagarelli said. “We have to keep our heads, and we have to be ready.”