The McDaniel men's basketball team had a chance to lock up home-court advantage for the Centennial Conference tournament play-in game, while also knocking off a nationally ranked opponent for the third time this season.
Instead, the Green Terror couldn't hang with No. 13 Johns Hopkins at home. And they'll have to win on Saturday if they hope to return to Gill Center.
The Blue Jays built a big lead early in the second half and cruised down the stretch to a 70-56 win over McDaniel on Wednesday.
"They came out on fire," Terror junior Tim Stewart said. "We had hands in their faces and they were still knocking them down. We still had to execute on offense, and we didn't."
The Green Terror play at Gettysburg on Saturday, before taking on the Bullets again in the playoffs next Wednesday. Whichever team wins on Saturday will earn home-court advantage for the tournament's play-in game.
Meanwhile, the Blue Jays clinched the top seed in the Centennial Conference, meaning the semifinals and finals of next weekend's tournament will take place at Hopkins.
Johns Hopkins (21-3, 15-2 Centennial Conference) opened the second half by making nine of their first 11 shots. During that stretch, Hopkins outscored the Green Terror 20-8, stretching its lead to 18 with 12:21 to go.
During that run, Ryan Curran hit a pair of 3-pointers, including one from the right corner with 13:47 remaining to make it 52-37. Gene Williams hit one from the same spot to make it 57-39 with 12:36 to go.
McDaniel (14-10, 9-8) could never recover and get back into the game.
"Usually we're very good at home; our crowd boosts us up," Stewart said. "They tried tonight, but we just weren't there. We didn't make our shots as much as we wanted to, very tough."
Stewart led the Green Terror with 21 points on 8-for-12 shooting, while also pulling down seven rebounds.
But the Terror struggled at the free-throw line, going 10 for 18 (55.6 percent), and couldn't contain the Jays' offensive attack. Hopkins shot 54.9 percent from the field, including going 8 for 20 from 3-point range.
The highlight for McDaniel in the first half was a trio of dunks by Stewart. First, he threw down a one-handed slam over a defender to put the Green Terror up 7-6 with 16:55 until halftime.
He had a two-handed jam midway through the half, and another slam with 3:56 to go that cut Johns Hopkins' lead to 29-28. Stewart scored 14 of the Green Terror's 31 points in the first half on 6-for-7 shooting.
The Blue Jays led for most of the opening half, but McDaniel briefly held a 24-22 lead when Stewart completed a three-point play with 7:17 to go. But Hopkins outscored the Terror 13-7 the rest of the way to take a four-point lead into the break.
George Bugarinovic led the Jays with 14 points (6 for 7 from the field) and five rebounds in the first half. He finished with 25 points and 10 rebounds, missing just one of his 12 shot attempts.
The Green Terror lost at home for just the second time in 10 games this season, and had previously beaten ranked opponents Dickinson, and Franklin & Marshall on their home court. They've struggled this season to remain consistent, as they dropped back-to-back games after previously being on a three-game winning streak.
McDaniel will need to end the skid if it wants to return to Gill Center this season.
"It's going to come down to who plays harder to have your crowd behind you," Stewart said. "We've got to move past this, we've got a tough game coming up. No matter what, we're going to play them again, and we'd love to play them at home. It's going to be tough; we've got to come ready to go."