Trinity Valley hands Blinn its first loss of the season

BRENHAM, Texas – It took 17 games for someone to hand the 12th-ranked Blinn Buccaneers their first loss of the season – and it took the No. 3 team in the nation to pull it off.

Trinity Valley Community College defeated Blinn 89-72 Wednesday night at the Blinn P.E. Building, ending a season-opening 16-game win streak for the Buccaneers. It was the longest season-opening win streak in program history.

Trinity Valley got a game-high 24 points from sophomore guard Shannon Smith.

"They're pretty stinking good," said Blinn (16-1, 2-1) coach Jeff Jenkins. "I thought in the first half we played about as well defensively as we're capable right now and in the second half we had trouble defending them. We know that's our weakness, and we're not going to face another team this year that's better than they are offensively."

Coming into the game, Trinity Valley had won 110 of their last 118 games and 84 of their last 88.

The Buccaneers kept it close early with some of their best defense of the season. Trinity Valley led 36-32 at halftime.

"I think we played as well in the first half as we have all year," Jenkins said. "I've been more upset with our defensive effort over some of our 16 wins than I was with tonight."

The defending Region XIV Conference champion Cardinals began to pull away in the second half. With 12:35 remaining, Smith hit a 3-pointer that extended Trinity Valley's lead to 59-45.

Blinn guard Aarika Reyna answered with a pair of 3-pointers in a two-minute span that cut the lead to 61-51, but Blinn was never able to cut the lead within single digits.

"I thought we started the second half pretty well, but then you look up and we're down 14 pretty quick," Jenkins said.

Reyna led the Buccaneers with 17 points. She had three 3-pointers on the night.

"She played the whole 20 minutes in the second half," Jenkins said. "She was not intimidated. She played like a third-year sophomore."

Sophomore Audrisa Harrison scored 12 points while freshmen Fatima Adams, Danielle Espinoza and Shanequa Gaston each scored nine.

The loss came on the same day that Blinn climbed from No. 14 to No. 12 in the NJCAA polls. Blinn was one of just three undefeated teams remaining in the nation.

"I've coached 13 years in this league and hopefully I'll coach another 13, but I'll probably never another that goes 16-0 so I thanked them for that," Jenkins said. "That's a great start."

In addition to Smith's 24 points, Trinity Valley (15-1, 2-0) got 19 points apiece from Adut Bulgak and Shlonte Allen.

"We can just try to get better defensively so maybe things will be different when we meet them again in March," Jenkins said. "We scored enough to win with very little transition because we weren't getting any defensive stops."

The Buccaneers travel to Carthage, Texas on Saturday to play Panola College at 4 p.m. Their next home game will be Wednesday, when they host Angelina College at 5:30 p.m. in the Blinn P.E. Building.