Blinn Outruns McLennan To Remain Undefeated
The two teams entered the matchup at the Kruse Center in Brenham riding a wave of momentum, and that paved the way for a high-scoring affair in which the two squads exchanged offensive runs before Blinn used a fourth-quarter explosion to outlast the visitors 81-74.
The Buccaneers turned a 55-all tie into their fourth straight win to open the season by outscoring McLennan 26-19 in the fourth period.
“Honestly, what brought us through that was our energy,” freshman guard Allana Thompson said. “We had really great energy, and no matter what happened, we never got down and we always brought each other up.”
Up is exactly the direction Blinn (4-0) is heading after its most recent impressive victory. The Buccaneers needed every bit of the energy Thompson talked about in dispatching a Highlassies team which had just upset then-second-ranked Tyler Junior College on Saturday.
“We’ve played McLennan two times every year for the last 20 years,” Blinn head coach Jeff Jenkins said. “Ricky Rhodes … he’s been the head coach there for 20 years, and every year they beat us by three or four points, or we may beat them by one or two. They’re always so competitive; they’re always well-coached; they always have 12 really good players.
“Any time you can beat a McLennan team — home or away — that’s a big win.”
What turned into a game of high-octane offense initially started as one in which neither team could find breathing room on the scoreboard.
The Buccaneers led just 18-15 after the first quarter thanks to a 3-pointer from freshman guard Telisha Brown, and McLennan (2-2) stuck around with a pair of free throws in the final minutes of the first half to pull within 34-32.
The Buccaneers kept the momentum briefly in the third quarter as they capped a 10-2 push (started at the end of the first half) with the first four points of the period.
Then the Highlassies went on a run.
A McLennan free throw cut Blinn’s 43-32 cushion to 10 points, and the Highlassies proceeded to surge ahead behind a 19-4 move to take a 52-47 lead late in the third quarter.
Just as it seemed McLennan had seized all momentum, Tullis said the Buccaneers turned to a reliable strength.
“Energy,” Tullis said emphatically. “We started getting our runs when our bench had energy, or when we created energy on the floor. It was that energy we were feeling on the court that gave us the strength to keep going back-and-forth on the court.”
Blinn ended the visitors’ push with a Deja Adrian jumper, and though Adrian later missed a pair of free throws, freshman guard Skylar Barnes wrestled her way into the lane for the offensive rebound on the second misfire and buried a putback to pull the hosts within 52-51.
(Pictured: Blinn College’s Allana Thompson)
Tullis gave Blinn its first lead since the 4:08 mark of the period when she muscled up underneath the basket and rebounded her own miss before quickly depositing it into the basket. And even after the Highlassies regained the edge on a 3-pointer, Tullis erased McLennan’s last lead of the ballgame with a jumper that rattled around the rim before dropping in as the third-quarter buzzer sounded.
The Buccaneers never slowed in the fourth quarter, opening the period on a 15-5 run to take a 70-60 advantage with 3:56 left in the game.
The Highlassies threatened once more, pulling within 73-67 with 1:38 to go, but Tullis again rebounded her own miss and turned it into a bucket. Blinn would also answer a McLennan 3 with four straight free throws to put the game on ice.
“That’s a great win against a great team,” Jenkins reiterated. “And I’m just glad we’re finding ways to win right now.”
On the night, Brown tallied a team-high 20 points for the Bucs, Tullis added 15 and Thompson chipped in 13. Patterson and Adrian posted 11 points apiece.
Blinn will remain home for another tough test in Temple College (3-0) at 5:30 p.m. on Thursday at the Kruse Center.
Blinn has competed in intercollegiate athletics since 1903 and captured 42 NJCAA national championships since 1987. For more information, visit www.buccaneersports.com.