Hutchinson, Kansas- Connors State played a rude guest to the host school in Monday's first round of the NJCAA National Tournament.
For a while.
The Cowboys took control early and led by as many as 14 points in the second half, but Hutchinson (Kan.) moved into Wednesday's second round with a 101-98 overtime victory.
Nate Goodlow's layup stretched the lead to three before the Cowboys' Jahcoree Ealy made a layup to get it within 99-98. Stuart was fouled by Connors' Greg Johnson with :10 left. He made both free throws.
Ealy missed a 3 with :04 left. Jayden Garrison got the rebound for Hutchinson, and the Cowboys season ended at 28-6. They entered as the 21st seed to Hutchinson's 12.
"I think we showed the seedings were out of whack," Connors coach Bill Muse said. "Turnovers hurt us down the stretch. They kept coming and coming and a couple 3s can change a 14-point lead in a hurry.
"It was a tough situation. It wasn't a neutral site for us. That stacks up against you. They play there, they practice there. But I thought the guys played hard. We lost the game, but they're winners in my mind."
The Cowboys committed 22 turnovers to Hutchinson's 12.
Connors played from behind briefly in the early going, giving up the first two baskets of the game and then trailing 6-3 on Josiah Harris' layup a little over 3 1/2 minutes in. D.J. Basey's tip-in made it 7-6 Connors with 15:01 to go in the half. Greg Johnson's 3 to make it 10-6 with 14:40 left.
It would be tied twice, the second time at 12, when Ealy's free throws gave the Cowboys a lead, then Mason Alexander, checking in at that point, hit a layup, free throw, layup off a steal from Ealy and a layup at 9:46 mark to make it a 22-17 Connors advantage, part of a 12-5 run that made it 24-17.
It was 46-39 as both teams headed to the locker room at the break. Alexander had 10 points at that point.
An Ealy jumper and layup pushed the advantage to double digits, 58-47, with 16:00 to play, before Basley's jumper raised it to Connors' biggest lead of the night, 64-50, with 13:45 to play.
Goodlow's layup made it a 3-point lead with 5:51 to go. Ealy and Alexander went back-to-back to grab the lead back at 79-78. Kaimen Lennox hit a free throw to tie it at 79, and it would be knotted six times from then, the last on Alexander's 3 with :09 left which sent it to overtime.
Xavier Glenn hit back-to-back layups to put Connors up 96-94 in OT, but Stuart's 3 with 2:06 left put the Blue Dragons up to stay.
Ealy ended his Connors career with a 20-point effort, going 7-of-11 from the field. Glenn had 18, Alexander 17, Johnson 13 and Sutton and Basey 12, before fouling out.
The Cowboys outshot Hutchinson 56.3 percent (36-of-64), to 45.5 percent (35-of-77), but were 2 of 10 from 3-point range. The Blue Dragons were 6-of-20 from beyond the arc.
The two teams were almost identical at the line. Connors was 24-of-31, Hutchinson 25-of-31.
The Connors State College Cowboys end the year at 28-6 on the year.