Things were rather even when the Jamestown Community College Jayhawks played host to the Niagara County CC Thunderwolves in the NJCAA Region 3 Division II men's basketball opener for each team.
Both teams hit 6 of 12 from the free-throw line and each had seven 3-pointers. But in the 2-point field goal department, Niagara County had 30 and JCC 29 and that was the difference in the Thunderwolves' 73-71 win.
''I thought the big difference in the game was our inability to break their press,'' JCC coach Mike Cordovano said after his team fell to 9-7. ''That one's on me. We prepared, but not at the level we should have. We were very disheveled. We weren't looking up the floor.''
Tyreek Jewell of Jamestown Community College heads to the basket between two Niagara County CC defenders during Thursday’s NJCAA Region 3 Division II men’s basketball game. See additional photos at cu.post-journal.com.
P-J photo by Jim Riggs
He added, ''We have the kind of kids that can beat this press, but our practices haven't really been good with people in and out. We just didn't have continuity tonight at all.''
That press led NCCC to a 16-5 lead after six minutes of play. The Jayhawks were still trailing by eight with 11 minutes left in the half when Omar St. John entered the game. The JCC sophomore, playing in only his second game, scored 13 points for the remainder of the half which led the Jayhawks to a 37-36 lead at halftime.
The Thunderwolves regained the lead early in the second half and were in front by five when the Jayhawks came alive.
They ran off 13 straight points, which included six points by Tyreek Jewell and five by Calvin Sterling, to take a 55-47 lead with 13 minutes left to play.
''They weren't pressing and they were playing us man,'' Cordovano said was the reason for the run. ''We were playing our attack off the dribble and we were getting everything we wanted.''
Niagara County went back to the press and answered with a 9-2 run to take a one-point lead.
''They were smart and they stayed in it,'' Cordovano said. ''We would catch the ball against that press, but we didn't look up the floor. We were just looking to get rid of the ball and not to make a play.''
The Jayhawks managed to take a four-point lead with 6:30 left, but NCCC countered that with the shooting of E.J. Sandoval, who scored nine points in two minutes to help his team regain the lead.
''We didn't get their shooters like we should have,'' Cordovano said.
To make matters worse for the Jayhawks, point guard Calvin Sterling fouled out with 5:22 left to play.
''It was important,'' Cordovano said about the loss of Sterling ''I think he would have helped us with our ballhandling.''
The coach noted that he wasn't aware that Sterling had picked up his fourth and fifth fouls so quickly and that wouldn't have happened with assistant coach Bryan Hodgson on the bench. However, Hodgson was involved in an auto accident hours before the tipoff and missed the game.
''I missed Bryan tonight terribly,'' Cordovano said.
JCC was trailing by two with 13 seconds left and could only manage to get off a wild shot from the corner by Michael Forrest that was well off the mark just before the buzzer sounded.
Jewell finished with 20 points and 10 rebounds for JCC. St. John had 19 points and Davonte Dunham added 16 points and five assists.
Isaiah Johnson had 17 points for NCCC while Sandoval had 16 points and 10 rebounds, and Ethan Baker had 13 points.
The Jayhawks play again on Saturday at Mercyhurst North East in another Region 3 Division II game.
Marsh 4 1-2 11, Verdecia 1 0-0 2, Johnson 7 1-3, 17, Hunter 0 1-2 1, Sandoval 7 2-3 16, Truesdell 0 0-0 0, Street 3 1-2 7, Hughes 3 0-0 6, Baker 5 0-0 13, Totals 30 6-12 73.
Dunham 6 0-0 16, St.John 9 0-3 19, Newell 2 0-0 4, Jewell 7 5-7 20, Forrest 1 0-0 2, Stokes 2 1-2 5, Sterling 2 0-0 5, Totals 29 6-12 71.
Halftime-JCC 37, Niagara County 36. 3-point goals-Marsh 2, Johnson 2, Baker 3, Dunham 4, St. John, Jewell, Sterling. Total fouls-Niagara County 12, JCC 13. Fouled out-Sterling. Technical-St. John.