For the second time in two days, the 18th-ranked Blinn College women’s basketball showed off its ability to recover from a tough half of basketball.
The Buccaneers rallied out of a halftime deficit and held off feisty Western Texas College on its way to a 66-61 victory on the final day of the Blinn Classic on Saturday at the Kruse Center in Brenham, Texas.
The Bucs went 2-0 during the Classic.
Blinn (8-2) staged a second-half rally one day after coming back from a two-point halftime hole to defeat Louisiana State University-Eunice.
With a roster featuring 14 freshmen, Bucs head coach Jeff Jenkins said the growing pains his squad displayed over the weekend are expected, but he also praised his team for their continued growth.
(Pictured: Blinn freshman guard Jonesha Neal, 0, goes up for a layup against Western Texas College on Dec. 2, 2023)
“These kids are 18-year-old freshmen and they’ve been thrown into the fire,” Jenkins said. “For them to be 8-2, I’m extremely proud of them.”
Blinn struggled offensively through the first two quarters of play and trailed the Westerners 15-6 after the opening period and 25-21 at the break.
In the third frame, however, with her team trailing 27-23, freshman guard Chelsy Singleton drilled back-to-back 3-pointers to ignite a 15-0 Bucs run.
Freshman forward Tocarra Johnson and freshman guard Jonesha Neal each sank a pair of free throws during the move, Singleton added a layup, and freshman guard DJ Kincade scored on a layup while being fouled. She then hit the subsequent free throw to make it 38-27 with 5:54 to go in the third.
Neal said an uptick in Blinn’s defense made the game-changing rally possible.
“The difference for us was playing defense and getting stops, and then scoring in transition,” Neal explained. “We know that when we buckle down on defense, our offense will eventually come.”
The Bucs led 49-38 heading into the fourth quarter, but Western continued to battle.
A 17-9 run brought the Westerners within 58-57 with 2:09 remaining.
Singleton gave Blinn some breathing room with a nifty layup underneath the basket off an inbounds pass, and freshman guard Liz Walton added two free throws with 21.1 seconds left to give the Bucs a five-point edge.
Freshman guard Ja’Nya Thomas was later sent to the free throw line following a flagrant foul, and after she sank both free throws, Neal added two more at the stripe to put the game away.
“Once we started playing better team basketball and playing aggressively, we started making more plays,” Thomas said. “When the pressure is on, we start making plays. It seems like whenever we start losing momentum, someone steps up and hits a big shot or draws a big foul and that gets us going.”
Western hit a 3 at the buzzer to close out the scoring.
Leading the way offensively for Blinn was Singleton, who tallied 16 points. Thomas posted 10 and Neal added eight.
Blinn’s season continues with a rematch against No. 4 McLennan Community College at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, Dec. 6, in Waco, Texas. The Bucs defeated the Highlassies 67-65 in overtime in both teams’ season opener on Nov. 1 in Brenham.
Blinn has competed in intercollegiate athletics since 1903 and captured 45 NJCAA national championships since 1987.