Men's College Basketball

Opportunity to advance slips away from Trail Blazers

By Herald-Whig
Posted: Mar. 21, 2019 12:01 am Updated: Mar. 22, 2019 2:00 am

DANVILLE, Ill. -- The end result is the only thing Cory Miller Jr. would change.

The execution and decision-making on the final two offensive possessions of Thursday's NJCAA Division II national tournament quarterfinal fell in line with the way the John Wood Community College men's basketball team has played all season.

The Trail Blazers got the ball in the hands of the open man.

The unfortunate side of that is neither time it led to a field goal.

Chandler Bevans missed a short hook shot to take the lead with less than 10 seconds to play and Miller missed a game-winning 3-point attempt at the buzzer as 14th-seeded Cecil (Md.) College advanced with a 90-88 victory over 11th-seeded JWCC at Mary Miller Gym.

"It's not how you want any game to go," said Miller, the sophomore guard who scored a game-high 35 points and had the ball in his hands on both possessions. "You're always going to look back when this is the outcome and wish it went the other way."

Although the shot at a national title is gone, the opportunity to play on the final day of the season exists.

JWCC (20-14) drops into the fifth-place bracket and will play Lakeland (Ohio) at 1 p.m. Friday. A victory means the Trail Blazers would play for fifth place at 2 p.m. Saturday.

"We're not done. We're not done yet," Miller said. "We want to win our last game."

The Trail Blazers had the chance for that to be in the winner's bracket.

Tied at 86, Miller stepped into a driving lane and took a charge from the Seahawks' Cornell Corbin with 46.2 seconds left. Twenty seconds later, he was fouled going to the basket and made both free throws to give the Trail Blazers the lead.

Cecil's Jacob Falko drove hard to the basket on the ensuing possession, making the layin and drawing a blocking foul on Carter Cramsey. Falko made the subsequent free throw for an 89-88 lead with 17.8 seconds left.

As expected, John Wood put the ball in Miller's hands, and at the top of the key, he looked to use a ball screen from Bevans to set up a curl cut to the basket. Instead of switching on the screen, the Seahakws doubled-teamed Miller and forced him to give the ball up.

He threw the ball back to his left to Bevans rolling away from the pick.

"We were trying to run Chandler in a fake ball screen because we knew they were either going to jump it or switch it," JWCC coach Brad Hoyt said. "We knew we'd either get Chandler going toward the basket or Cory turning the corner. I thought those were our best options."

The Seahawks took away one of those.

"They really kind of hard fired it," Miller said. "They just both came at me, which was really smart. So I just hit the open guy."

Bevans took a short jump hook that missed off the right side of the rim.

"I went to one of my go-to moves, which is spin move, bump 'em, hook shot," Bevans said. "I unfortunately missed by a lot."

Miller said it was the right decision to give Bevans the ball.

"I wouldn't change anything about that," Miller said. "Even if I would have had 50 points, you have to get the ball to the open guy when you're getting doubled."

The Seahawks (23-11) won the defensive rebound in a scramble, and Falko was fouled with 2.9 seconds left. He missed the first free throw, made the second and gave Miller one more chance.

He caught the inbounds pass moving up the ride side of the court and stopped about 30 feet from the basket and attempted an in-rhythm 3-pointer. It hit the front of the rim and fell off.

Both he and Hoyt felt it was a good look.

"Good enough to make it, I can say that," Miller said.

Just not good enough to full erase the Trail Blazers' struggles defensively.

The Seahawks shot 59.4 percent from the field and 63.6 percent from 3-point range in the first half, scoring 48 points and taking a five-point lead into halftime.

It led to an opponent scoring 90 points for only the fourth time this season, and the other three were all NJCAA Division I opponents.

"That's probably the main kicker that got us beat," Miller said. "We broke down defensively. A team at this stage in the game is going to make open shots."

NJCAA Division II National Tournament

Quarterfinals

Cecil 90, John Wood 88

CECIL (23-11)

Falko 9-15 6-6 26, C. Corbin 2-6 4-4 8, Ringgold 4-7 0-0 9, H. Corbin 5-8 0-0 11, Davey 1-2 0-0 3, Jefferson 3-7 0-0 9, Jenkins 2-3 1-1 5, Williams 0-0 0-0 0, Johnson 8-12 0-0 19, Gates 0-2 0-0 0. Totals 34-62 11-14 90.

JOHN WOOD (20-14)

Easter 4-6 2-2 10, Whiteman 2-10 4-5 9, Cramsey 2-4 4-4 8, Miller 11-20 9-10 35, Jefferson 2-4 5-10 9, Rumbo 1-4 1-2 4, Jackson 1-1 0-0 2, Bevans 3-10 0-1 8, Bottorff 1-2 0-0 3. Totals 28-61 25-34 88.

Halftime score--Cecil 48, JWCC 43. 3-point field goals--Cecil 11-22 (Jefferson 3-5, Johnson 3-3, Falko 2-6, H. Corbin 1-3, Davey 1-2, Ringgold 1-1, Jenkins 0-1, Gates 0-1), JWCC 7-17 (Miller 4-7, Whiteman 1-7, Rumbo 1-2, Bottorff 1-1). Rebounds--Cecil 35 (H. Corbin 9), JWCC 33 (Bevans 8). Assists–Cecil 14 (Jefferson 5), JWCC 11 (Jackson 4). Steals--Cecil 5 (Falko 2), JWCC 9 (Cramsey, Miller 3). Blocked shots--Cecil 3 (H. Corbin, Jenkins, Johnson), JWCC 4 (Bevans 2). Turnovers--Cecil 16, JWCC 11. Fouls--Cecil 25, JWCC 16. Fouled out--Ringgold.