DANVILLE, Ill. -- The minutes piled up along with the points, so much so that Cory Miller Jr. nearly ended up with equal amounts of both.
The John Wood Community College men's basketball team needed them all.
Miller played a little more than 36 minutes in Thursday's NJCAA Division II national tournament quarterfinal against Cecil (Md.) College, while scoring a game-high 35 points. He had a chance to add to that total, taking the final shot as time expired.
However, his 3-point attempt from deep on the right wing hit the front of the rim and bounced off as the Trail Blazers suffered a 90-88 loss at Mary Miller Gym to drop into the fifth-place bracket.
"I have to play him so many stickin' minutes, but he makes the most of every minute on the court and he makes us better," JWCC coach Brad Hoyt said. "You put the ball in his hands and you trust him."
And you get memorable performances like this.
"He was just doing what he does," Hoyt said. "You come to expect big things, and I don't want that to diminish what he did. I'm spoiled in that regard. I know what he can do and has done on a daily basis. So nothing about his game surprises me."
Still, a stat line that includes two assists, three steals and no turnovers makes the effort more impressive.
"He was tough and rebounded the ball and chased stuff down and shared it and got his hands on stuff," Hoyt said. "What else could he do? You know he's going to try to give you all of that."
In this case, he gave the Trail Blazers more. He gave them a chance.
Miller went 11 of 20 from the field and 4 of 7 from 3-point range, matching Cecil guard Jacob Falko play-for-play. Falko finished with 26 points and had a three-point play with 17.8 seconds remaining to give the Seahawks the lead. Miller ran the point on JWCC's final two possessions and got the Trail Blazers two good looks, including his own.
Neither shot fell, but he wouldn't engineer things any differently.
"You try to make the best play," Miller said. "We made the plays we were supposed to make."
That's not uncommon for Miller, the tournament's leading scorer.
"I did feel in rhythm," Miller said. "My teammates found me in rhythm, which helps. I didn't feel like I had to force any action. I just went out and played."