Despite bringing just six players to town, Kilgore College was ready for a battle at the Kruse Center on Wednesday.

Fortunately, the fifth-ranked Blinn College women’s basketball team was ready, too.

“They were able to run with us, and we were a little worried about that before the game,” Blinn sophomore guard Jakoria Long said of Kilgore. “They were big, so we had to crash the boards and push the ball a little more than we normally do, but once we got in a rhythm, we were good to go.”

It was a back-and-forth tilt from the outset, as the two teams exchanged buckets through the first 10 minutes of play. Blinn (16-1, 4-0 Region XIV) went into the second period with a 22-18 edge but needed a buzzer-beating 3-pointer from sophomore guard Tianna Mathis to take its first double-digit lead of the game — a 43-32 halftime advantage.

“The five players who played a majority of the minutes tonight for Kilgore are very good players,” Blinn head coach Jeff Jenkins said. “They hurt us inside and they hurt us rebounding, and we’re not playing very well right now. But, I thought we still did enough things right down the stretch to find a way to win.”

Turnovers and poor shot selection hindered the Buccaneers in the second half as the Rangers stuck around and were still within 59-49 after three quarters of play.

(Pictured: Blinn College sophomore guard Skylar Barnes fights past the Kilgore College defense on her way to the basket during a game Jan. 18)

Blinn took control for good with a 10-4 run, capped by a jumper from sophomore guard Skylar Barnes that made it a 69-53 ballgame with 5:06 remaining. Kilgore made a final push with a 9-1 move in the final minutes but ran out of time in its bid for an upset.

The Bucs were led by a trio of 12-point performances from Long, Barnes, and sophomore forward Tiffany Tullis. Sophomore guards Hannah Humphrey and Makayla Patterson chipped in nine and eight points, respectively.

Blinn hits the road for a region bout at Paris Junior College at 2 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 21, in Paris, Texas.

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