BELLEVILLE — The Southwestern Illinois College Blue Storm simply let one slip away on Monday against the Mineral Area College Cardinals.
Quantel Denson nailed a 12-foot jumper with eight seconds remaining as Mineral Area stunned a large Veterans Day crowd with a come-from-behind 63-62 win in men's junior college basketball.
Mineral Area (4-0) trailed 62-56 with under two minutes remaining following a short jumper by Blue Storm sophomore Keanau Post.
But a 3-point basket by Leon Watkins followed by a short jumper by Denson with 16.8 seconds left cut the lead to 62-61.
SWIC (4-1) then could not inbound the ball against the Cardinals' press and turned it over on a 5-second call.
Denson then hit his game-winning shot.
After an exchange of turnovers, SWIC had one last chance but failed to get off a good shot as time expired.
Veteran SWIC coach Jay Harrington didn't have much to say following the game.
"Until we learn to hit 5-foot shots, we will struggle," Harrington said.
SWIC, which struggled with its shooting all night against the lightning quick Cardinals, led 30-29 at halftime.
Mineral Area, getting seven points early in the second half from Jay Raulston, took a 40-34 lead before the Blue Storm rallied.
A layup by freshman JaQuail Townser followed by consecutive 3-point hoops b y sophomore Dylan Chatman put SWIC up 51-49 with nine minutes left.
Freshman Luke Norman hit a 3-point shot with 6:06 left to increase the Blue Storm lead to 56-51.
But SWIC could muster only six points the rest of the night.
Raulston paced Mineral Area with 18 points, while Chatman scored 12 points and Townser added 10 for SWIC.
Mineral Area 68, SWIC 57
Sophomore Janelle Travis scored 13 of her 19 points in the second half-- and helped put the Blue Storm away with three 3-point baskets -- as Mineral Area rallied for the women's junior college basketball win.
Playing its season opener with 12 freshmen on its roster, SWIC led by as many as eight points and by a 46-40 margin midway in the second half following a 3-point basket by freshman LaTeesha Deloach.
But the Cardinals (5-0) outscored SWIC 28-11 over the final nine minutes to post the win.
"Our youth was obvious with some ill-advised passes and poor shot selection, we knew coming into the game that Mineral was a very good team which would come after us. Plus it was their fifth game of the year,'' Blue Storm coach Mike Juenger said.
"Don't get me wrong. There were a lot of things we did out there tonight that I was happy with. We weren't ready for this. You can blame that on me.''
All-American Janelle Cannon led SWIC with 19 points -- 15 of which came in the first half.
SWIC led 30-26 at halftime.
But with Travis and Chelsea Panner combining for 23 seconds half, the Cardinals had too much offense for the Blue Storm down the stretch.
"I'm not disappointed. We'll improve,'' Juenger said. "I'm glad we played this game tonight against Mineral Area. It will give our kids an idea of where we need to be.''
Contact reporter Dean Criddle at 239-2661 or firstname.lastname@example.org