Men's College Basketball

Second-half struggles leave Trail Blazers in sixth

John Wood Takes 6th At NJCAA National Tournament
March 23, 2019 - Danville, Illinois - John Wood players Nick Rumbo, left and Cory Miller, Jr, react to their loss to Milwaukee Area Technical College on Saturday at the NJCAA Division II Tournament. The Trail Blazers fall in the 5th-place game 85-68 to the Stormers. (Photo: Deb Edwards/PhotoNews Media)
Deb Edwards
By Herald-Whig
Posted: Mar. 23, 2019 8:30 pm Updated: Mar. 23, 2019 10:07 pm

DANVILLE, Ill. -- As John Wood Community College men's basketball coach Brad Hoyt continued to replay the second half in his head, he came to one logical conclusion for how things played out.

"That's just a really good team," he said of Milwaukee Area Tech. "They make everything difficult."

The Stormers made life miserable on Saturday.

Milwaukee Area Tech outscored JWCC 50-25 in the second half of the fifth-place game of the NJCAA Division II national tournament, erasing an eight-point halftime deficit and cruising to an 85-68 victory at Mary Miller Gym.

"Their pressure wore us down at the end of the day," Hoyt said. "We got so pushed out of our structure. That's what that kind of pressure can do. We just couldn't create an advantage."

Nor could they stop the storm.

Milwaukee Area Tech (31-6) opened the second half on a 19-3 run, shot 57.6 percent from the field in the second half and took advantage of JWCC's struggles. The Trail Blazers (21-15) turned the ball over 27 times and shot 35.7 percent from the field in the second half.

Not even free throws would fall as the Trail Blazers made just two of seven in the second half.

"They have that pressure that tries to take you out of everything you're trying to get into," said JWCC sophomore guard Cory Miller Jr., who finished with a game-high 29 points and 14 rebounds. "They just took us out of everything. We couldn't run an offense to save our lives, and we had too many turnovers to win a game at the end of the day."

That was a stark contrast to the first half. The Trail Blazers built a 43-35 lead by holding the Stormers to 0-of-10 shooting from 3-point range and executing offensively with eight assists on 15 field goals.

"We ran our stuff, had good spacing and shared it right," Hoyt said.

None of those things were efficient in the second half, although the Trail Blazers fought to make it happen.

"I thought we were us," Hoyt said. "At the end of the day, that's all I can ask."

The effort was never in question.

"I tried, and we all tried," Miller said. "We're proud of how long we dragged the season out. We got to the goal, which was to play on the very last day. It is what it is, and it was fun."

The Trail Blazers enjoyed the third-best finish in program history and played on the final day of the season for the second time in the last four years.

"That is cool," Hoyt said. "What a great experience. The further you get away from it, the more you will appreciate it. But I think everyone understands how special this was."

Those final 20 minutes don't change that.

"I think everybody walked out of the locker room with a smile on their face knowing everything we accomplished," Miller said.

NJCAA Division II Tournament

Fifth-place game

Milwaukee Area Tech 85, John Wood 63

JOHN WOOD (21-15)

Easter 2-6 3-4 7, Whiteman 2-14 0-0 5, Cramsey 0-2 2-2 2, Miller 11-16 4-9 29, Jefferson 2-7 0-0 4, Rumbo 2-6 2-2 8, Talton 0-0 0-0 0, Jackson 4-4 1-2 9, Morrison 0-2 0-0 0, Billings 0-0 0-0 0, Bevans 2-5 0-1 4, Bottorff 0-2 0-0 0, Gadeke 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 25-64 12-20 68.

MILWAUKEE (31-6)

Briley 4-8 2-2 12, Swinford 6-6 2-2 14, Sanford 1-13 6-7 8, Young-Pryor 8-11 0-0 16, Martin 7-13 2-2 16, Webb 4-9 0-0 9, Barrett 0-1 2-2 2, Lee 4-8 0-0 8, Wofford 0-0 0-0 0, Dillard 0-3 0-0 0, Singleton 0-1 0-0 0, Savier 0-2 0-0 0, Hall 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 34-76 14-15 85.

Halftime score--JWCC 43, Milwaukee 35. 3-point field goals--JWCC 6-18 (Miller 3-4, Rumbo 2-3, Whiteman 1-10, Morrison 0-1), Milwaukee 3-20 (Briley 2-5, Webb 1-5, Sanford 0-4, Sevier 0-2, Martin 0-1, Barrett 0-1, Lee 0-1, Dillard 0-1). Rebounds--JWCC 47 (Miller 14), Milwaukee 36 (Young-Pryor 7). Assists--JWCC 11 (Cramsey 4), Milwaukee 12 (Young-Pryor, Lee 3). Steals--JWCC 1 (Rumbo), Milwaukee 14 (Lee 5). Blocked shots--JWCC 1 (Bevans), Milwaukee 6 (Martin 2). Turnovers--JWCC 27, Milwaukee 11. Fouls--JWCC 19, Milwaukee 21. Fouled out--None.