On Saturday, the Buccaneers decided to make it two.

Facing 10th-ranked Lee College for the second time this season, Blinn grabbed a first-half lead and never relinquished it en route to a 68-58 Region XIV South Zone victory at the Kruse Center in Brenham, Texas.

The win gave the Bucs (21-7 overall, 14-3 South Zone) another signature victory following a 90-73 home triumph over then-14th-ranked Kilgore College on Jan. 14.

Blinn’s dismissal of Lee (22-5, 14-2) also avenged an 82-77 road loss to the Navigators on Jan. 25.

“Lee has set the standard in our conference, not only this year but for the last couple of years,” Bucs head coach Scott Schumacher said. “Our guys know that; our guys were very focused and very zoned in; and I thought they played an entire 40-minute game. The last time we played Lee, we had our chances, but they just did a better job than us, and I’m just happy that our guys learned from the first game how good Lee really is. We made a few adjustments, but our guys have a tremendous amount of respect for Lee and that showed in our preparation, pre-game, and the way we played.”

Blinn trailed briefly Saturday, falling behind 8-2 in the opening minutes before a 25-9 run pushed the hosts ahead 27-17 with 5:42 left in the first half.

A pair of free throws from sophomore guard Damian Watson, a layup from sophomore guard Masiah Gilyard, and a jumper from sophomore guard Elijah Elliott gave the Bucs their biggest advantage of the half at 33-19.

“We knew the mistakes we made the first time we played Lee, so we had to focus on not making those same mistakes and then just playing our game,” Gilyard said. “We just kept our foot on the gas in the second half, kept applying the pressure, and played hard until the final whistle.”

The Navigators refused to go away, beginning a 12-0 run with the final bucket of the first half that leaked into the second half. A 3-pointer pulled Lee within 33-31 before sophomore forward Alex Tsynkevich turned a Gilyard pass into a backboard bucket. Tsynkevich’s make ignited another big run for the Bucs, who reeled off 13 consecutive points to widen their lead. Freshman forward Jamine Charles turned a Watson assist into a layup for a 46-31 lead. 

An Eliott layup gave Blinn its biggest lead of the game at 63-44.

“We just made a few adjustments this time around,” Elliott said. “We knew we had to come out with energy and intensity; we did that and got the job done.”

The Navigators managed to trim its deficit to 67-58 with 1:28 to go, but sophomore guard Bakari Marshall secured a steal with 48 seconds remaining to halt the visitors’ momentum. 

Gilyard paced the Bucs with 15 points, while Elliott, Foster, and Charles added 14, 12, and 10, respectively. 

Blinn continues region play with a road trip to Jacksonville College at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 23, in Jacksonville, Texas.

Blinn has competed in intercollegiate athletics since 1903 and captured 42 NJCAA national championships since 1987.

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