Sanni, Watson Lead Blinn Past Arkansas-Cossatot In Blue Bell Ice Cream Classic

Sanni, Watson Lead Blinn Past Arkansas-Cossatot In Blue Bell Ice Cream Classic

Following its second overtime loss of the season on Tuesday, Nov. 9, Blinn College head coach Scott Schumacher was adamant his team needed to make winning plays late in games to come out on top.

The Buccaneers got the message.

Locked in a back-and-forth battle with University of Arkansas-Cossatot Community College on the opening night of the Blue Bell Ice Cream Classic on Friday, Blinn erased a late fourth-quarter stalemate with a 10-4 run and defeated the Colts 76-70 at the Kruse Center in Brenham.

“This was a great win for us,” Schumacher said. “Our guys really hung in there and made some really big plays – big shots, big stops, big rebounds. That was a big win for us, and you can tell by just how happy and excited my guys are.”

Following the game, the home locker room could barely contain the loud roars emitting from the Buccaneers, who improved to 3-3 overall and 2-0 at the Kruse Center.

Blinn’s elation was earned after the hosts fought back from a six-point deficit midway through the second half. The Buccaneers trailed from the 6:09 mark of the second half until 4:09 remained when they took a brief 66-64 lead on freshman center Alex Tsynkevich‘s two free throws.

The Colts tied the game on a layup, but Tsynkevich pulled in an assist from freshman point guard Damian Watson and scored on a hook shot to kickstart Blinn’s decisive 10-4 push.

Moments later, Watson stole an Arkansas-Cossatot pass and dished it to sophomore forward Tyler Washington in transition for a fast-break layup to make it a 70-66 ballgame.

Two straight buckets from the Colts’ Kamren Woods tied the game once more at 70-all, but freshman wing Jaja Sanni drilled a jumper for his team-high 24th points of the game to give Blinn the lead for good with 56 seconds left.

Arkansas-Cossatot missed a 3-pointer and Blinn sophomore wing Connor Raines grabbed the defensive rebound before drawing a foul to put the Buccaneers in the double bonus. He converted the ensuing free throws for a four-point edge.

Watson drew one final foul with 8.2 seconds left in the game and made both shots from the free-throw line to put the game away.

Watson produced a handful of fast-break points with heads up steals. He ended his night with 16 points.

“Defense wins championships,” Watson said. “The more defensive stops we get, the more time we have on offense to score and bring energy to the people here watching us.

“This game was about fight; it was about who wanted it more. Our energy level was key and I think it’s why we came out on top.”

(Pictured: Blinn College head coach Scott Schumacher)

Entering the contest as Blinn’s leading scorer with 15.2 points per game, Sanni kept the Colts off balance with a variety of layups, floaters, and pull-up jumpers. He scored 12 points in each half.

Schumacher praised Sanni for giving the Buccaneers a jolt of offensive life in key moments, and the hot-shooting guard credited his go-ahead jumper in the game’s final minute to familiar circumstances.

“All my life I’ve been in situations where I’ve had to come through at the end of games, so it was only natural for me,” he said. “Arkansas-Cossatot kept coming up with some clutch buckets, so we couldn’t give up. We had to keep fighting for our own buckets to stay in the game.”

Washington added 12 points for the Buccaneers, Tsynkevich chipped in eight, and Raines finished with seven. 

Blinn wraps up the Blue Bell Ice Cream Classic against Dallas College-North Lake (4-0) at 3 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 13, at the Kruse Center. North Lake defeated Victoria College in Friday’s tournament opener. 

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