On Wednesday, the Buccaneers responded in a big way.

Blinn went toe-to-toe with a scrappy Panola College squad for three quarters before flexing its offensive muscle to pull away for a 78-53 victory in the Region XIV opener for both teams at the Kruse Center in Brenham, Texas.

The victory came on the heels of Blinn’s 79-74 home loss to No. 12 McLennan Community College on Monday. Bucs head coach Jeff Jenkins said his team spent more time than usual reviewing film of the game and believed the extended review session benefited his team in its first conference tilt.

“It was a long 48 hours,” Jenkins said. “It was a 40-minute game Monday, and we were in film for three hours watching every play multiple times on Tuesday. We came into today’s game wanting to do a better job with our transition defense, we wanted to do a better job defensively knowing where shooters are and with defensive rebounding, and our shot selection needed to improve. I thought we showed improvement tonight.”

While Blinn (10-1, 1-0 Region XIV) worked to improve its game Wednesday, the Phillies brought their best in an effort to upend the Bucs.

Even after Blinn built a 25-13 first-quarter advantage and led 27-17 heading into the second, Panola battled. 

Blinn sophomore guard Skylar Barnes nailed a 3-pointer near the end of the first half to put the hosts ahead by eight, but the Phillies used a pair of free throws late to make it a 39-33 ballgame at the intermission.

“We had to put our heads together, fix our communication on the court, and fix some of our issues,” said freshman guard Amyria Walker. “We came in ready to win and get the feeling of winning back into our system, but Panola was ready to play, and we had to fight for it.”

The Bucs went on an 11-2 run to open the third period and led 50-35 after a Barnes layup, but Panola responded with a 10-0 burst to pull within 50-45.

With the visitors within 52-46 near the end of the third, sophomore guard Hannah Humphrey and sophomore forward Tiffany Tullis sank a free throw apiece to kickstart a massive 26-7 push that put the game away.

(Pictured: Blinn College’s Amyria Walker, 5, shoots a 3-pointer during a game against Panola College on Dec. 7)

The Bucs carried a 54-46 lead into the fourth quarter. 

Tullis scored seven of her 15 points during the move. Walker drilled four of her five 3s during the big stretch and also finished with 15 points.

Ten different Buccaneers scored at least two points and Tullis said that was key to Blinn pulling away from the Phillies.

“The key for us tonight was moving the ball around and taking good shots,” said Tullis. “We held on to the ball and had good possessions, and that allowed us to take the game into our own hands and control things.”

Barnes ended her night with 14 points and Humphrey chipped in eight. 

The Bucs hit 10 3s and finished 16 of 23 from the free throw line.

Blinn resumes its season with a region road trip to Coastal Bend College at 2 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 10, in Beeville, Texas. 

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