Buccaneers rally back to defeat McLennan, 89-86

BRENHAM, Texas — The Blinn College men's basketball team (5-1) came back from a 13-point deficit in the second half to defeat McLennan Community College, 89-86, on Tuesday night at the Kruse Center.

"These guys were resilient and enjoy playing basketball and being coached, so I give them the credit for continuing to play hard until the buzzer," said Scott Schumacher, Blinn head coach. "Our home crowd is phenomenal and we had great support tonight. I love playing home games here at Blinn College."

Tristan Ikpe led Blinn with a season-high 21 points, AJ Rainey and Cardell McGee each chipped in 18 points, and Markus Vallien recorded 12.

"It feels good to fight back and come out on top after a rough start to the second half," Ikpe said. "We all trust each other, so that kept us going. Our defense got a lot of stops down the stretch and we followed through with plays on offense."

McLennan and Blinn went back and forth in the first half until the Highlanders pulled ahead 31-25. Vallien hit back-to-back three-pointers for the Buccaneers to gain on McLennan, 33-31, while Ikpe scored four straight points for Blinn to even the score, 35-35. However, the Highlanders finished the opening half on a 14-7 run to lead 49-42 moving into the final half.

McLennan took off in the second half on a 10-4 run to lead by 13 points. Pedro Castro led Blinn with four points on a 6-0 run for the Buccaneers to pull within one point of McLennan with 6:35 left (77-76). With two minutes remaining, Rainey scored four straight points to even the score 84-84 and Blinn took the lead for the first time in the half on a two-pointer by Uriel Velis. Rainey made two free throws for Blinn to lead, 88-84, with 48.5 seconds remaining. Blinn was able to limit McLennan to just two points in the final minute for the win.

Next, Blinn will compete against Lone Star College-Tomball on Thursday, November 14, at 7 p.m. in the Kruse Center.

Blinn has competed in intercollegiate athletics since 1903 and captured 41 NJCAA national championships since 1987.