Hutchinson, Kansas -- A cold-shooting afternoon meant a frustrating end to the season for the No. 12 Indian Hills Warriors on Tuesday at the Sports Arena. The Warriors, riding a 13-game winning streak coming into the NJCAA Division I National Tournament, were defeated by Monroe (N.Y.) College, 70-64, on a day when the Warriors shot only 35 percent from the field and never led.
After falling behind 33-23 at intermission -- the fewest points scored by IHCC in a half this season -- while making only 36 percent of their field goal attempts, Indian Hills was even colder to start the second half. It took nearly six minutes for IHCC to score in the final half and the 10-point halftime deficit grew to 18 at 41-23.
But Kenny Wormley's layup broke the scoring drought for the Warriors and started them on a quick 9-0 spurt and got IHCC back in the game. The run became 13-1 when Jamel Allen drained four straight free throws and, with almost 10 minutes still remaining, there appeared to be plenty of time for an Indian Hills comeback.
Monroe, however, answered with six consecutive points, the final three on a 3-pointer by Dani Koljanin, to go back on top 48-36.
The Warriors really struggled from behind the 3-point arc, making only 5-of-28, Wormley hit their first three with eight minutes to play, and Chris McNeal, minutes later, made his team-leading 82nd 3-pointer to get IHCC to within five points, 52-47. But the Warriors never got closer than that. McNeal missed a three-point try that would have cut the Monroe lead to three at the 2:00 mark and the Mustangs salted away the victory by making 5-of-6 foul shots in the final minute.
IHCC's Richardson Maitre hit back-to-back threes in the last 60 seconds, but the buckets came too late to prevent the Warriors from losing in their first game at the national tourney for the third year in a row. Ironically, they finished each season with an identical 29-5 record. Even with Maitre's late 3-pointers, the Warriors were only 18 percent from distance.
There was one tie in the game, at 2-2, after IHCC's Jermaine Ukaegbu slammed home a feed from Maitre. But a sign of future problems came when the Warriors turned the ball over on three of their first four possessions. They had 10 first-half turnovers and 18 in the game.
Ivan Aurrecoechea scored 10 points in the first half -- he was one of four Indian Hills players in double figures -- but only one of his teammates had more than two points in the opening 20 minutes. Aurrecoechea didn't score in the second half. Wormley led IHCC with 14 points. Maitre added 12 and McNeal had 11.
Clifton Tracey, averaging 7 points a game for the Mustangs, led all scorers with 20 points and Koljanin was the only other Monroe player in double digits with 10. He added a game-high 14 rebounds.
McNeal's two 3-pointers gave him 83 for the season, tied for sixth-best in a single season at IHCC.
The Warriors swept the Region 11 regular season and postseason titles and had an impressive road win at 10th-ranked North Dakota State College of Science to claim the district championship and a 13th trip to Hutch. But they failed to convert the first national tourney win since finishing second in the 2014 tourney.
Monroe, now 24-10, advances to take on Eastern Florida on Wednesday night.
MONROE 70, INDIAN HILLS 64
Chris McNeal 3 3-5 11, Kenny Wormley 6 1-2 14, Antonio Williams 0 2-5 2, Richardson Maitre 4 2-4 12, Ivan Aurrecoechea 4 2-4 10, Jamel Allen 2 5-7 9, Brady Ernst 0 0-0 0, Tre Hansbrough 1 0-0 2, Ricky Gouety 0 0-0 0, Jermaine Ukaegbu 2 0-0 4, Karl Harris 0 0-0 0, Brandon Hutton 0 0-0 0 Team 22 15-27
Dani Koljanin 4 0-0 10, Bryan Assie 1 3-6 5, Hampus Ahlin 1 0-0 2, Tyler Ancrum 3 0-0 6, Jarron Chapman 4 0-0 8, Clifton Tracey 7 4-4 20, Donald Butler 3 0-0 6, Will Martinez 2 3-4 7, Mouhamadou Gueye 2 2-6 6 Team 27 12-20 70
Halftime score: Monroe 33, Indian Hills 23; Three-point field goals: IHCC 5 (McNeal 2, Maitre 2, Wormley 1), MC 4 (Koljanin 2, Tracey 2)