After shooting just 53 percent from the free throw line in regulation, the Buccaneers found new life in overtime and made nine straight shots from the charity stripe to finish off an incredible rally that ended with an 81-74 victory over No. 19 McLennan Community College on Wednesday in Waco, Texas.
“We struggled with free throws and open perimeter shots, but we got down 10 and showed great poise,” Blinn head coach Jeff Jenkins said. “We made enough plays down the stretch and got hot at the free throw line. Hannah Humphrey … she missed several open 3s and then made probably the toughest 3-pointer imaginable. I’m really happy for her.”
The Buccaneers (1-0) picked up the tough road win in an overtime period made possible by an 18-8 fourth-quarter run. Blinn trailed 58-48 with 9:18 left in regulation, but Humphrey — a sophomore guard — finished the comeback when she drilled a contested 3-pointer coming off a screen to tie the game at 66-all with nine seconds to go. Sophomore forward Tiffany Tullis was credited with the assist on the game-tying trey.
(Pictured: Blinn College’s Hannah Humphrey)
Jenkins said Humphrey proved to be a defensive stalwart against the Highlassies and joked that she was “rewarded by the basketball gods” when her clutch 3 found the basket.
McLennan missed a go-ahead 3 just before the fourth-quarter buzzer to send the game into OT.
The Bucs scored the first four points of overtime, starting with two free throws from Tullis, and essentially put the game away when sophomore guard Crystal Smith made 1 of 2 free throws with 29 seconds remaining to give the visitors a 79-74 edge. Smith went 2 for 2 from the line just seconds later to cap the scoring for Blinn.
The Bucs went just 9 of 17 from the line in regulation but caught fire to convert 12 of 13 free buckets in the five-minute OT period.
The two teams were tied 18-all after the first quarter. Blinn held a 30-27 halftime edge but trailed 53-44 going into the fourth period.
“The energy and the effort were great, and even when we were down 10, we didn’t get sad or hang our heads,” Jenkins added. “We were positive the whole time. Most years I’m not sure we win this game, but everyone played hard and we battled.”
The Bucs resume their season when they take on Midland College at 1 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 5, at Jacksonville College in Jacksonville, Texas.
Blinn has competed in intercollegiate athletics since 1903 and captured 42 NJCAA national championships since 1987.