Down 14 in the first half of their Region XIV home tilt against Navarro College, the Buccaneers battled all the way back to take an 11-point lead with 45 seconds to go in the second half. From there, Blinn held off the visiting Bulldogs to secure an 82-78 win at the Kruse Center in Brenham, Texas.
“I thought that was a really good basketball game; anybody who came to the game got their money’s worth,” said Blinn head coach Scott Schumacher.
The Bucs (9-8, 2-4 Region XIV) certainly never quit. After the Bulldogs hit four 3-pointers, including three in a row from Xavier Pina, who scored a game-high 27 points on nine 3-pointers, Blinn held an 80-78 lead with three seconds remaining.
With 2.2 seconds to go, freshman center Alex Tsynkevich was fouled during a scramble for the ball and drilled both his free throws to seal the win for the Bucs.
“I told the guys that we got enough in the bank so that when deposits were being withdrawn from Navarro, we still had enough in the savings account,” Schumacher said of Navarro’s foul situation, which put Blinn at the free-throw line six times in the final minute.
(Pictured right: Blinn College head men’s basketball coach Scott Schumacher)
To Schumacher’s point, Blinn’s final 13 points came from the free-throw line, with sophomore wing Connor Raines making 6 of 6 free throws, Tysnkevich converting 4 of 4, and sophomore guard Calvin Carpenter going 3 of 4.
“I think the fact that we work so much on our free throws paid off big time for us,” said Tsynkevich, who scored 20 of his team-high 26 points in the second half, including a 10-for-10 showing from the free-throw line. “Every practice, we go to the line and work on our free-throw game; it’s an important part of the game and I think we showed that tonight. Free throws are the reason we stayed in this game, kept our lead and won.”
Blinn trailed 27-14 midway through the first half but used a 9-0 run to pull within 30-28 by halftime.
Trailing 64-63, Tysnkevich’s hook shot with about two minutes remaining pushed the Bucs ahead for good.
Freshman wing/forward Tyler Washington gave the Bucs a boost with 20 points and Raines added 14.
Blinn will resume its season with a Region XIV makeup game against Tyler Junior College at 4 p.m. Sunday at the Kruse Center.
Blinn has competed in intercollegiate athletics since 1903 and captured 42 NJCAA national championships since 1987.