SHREVEPORT, La. — The Blinn College men's basketball season ended Tuesday afternoon as the Buccaneers fell to Kilgore College, 69-68, in the first round of the NJCAA Region XIV Tournament in the Centenary College Gold Dome.
After AJ Rainey's three-pointer evened the score for Blinn with 1:03 on the clock, Kilgore hurried to score the next four points and take a 69-65 lead. Rainey and Kai Tease tallied the final three points in the last seven seconds, but a crucial steal with a second remaining allowed the Rangers to secure a one-point victory.
"We played a really good basketball game and were able to fight back with a 35-15 run after falling behind 11-0 to start the game," said Scott Schumacher, Blinn head coach. "In the first half we were 10-for-10 at the free throw line and unfortunately in the second half we were 5-for-12. I give Kilgore credit for hanging in there and getting the win, but it is unfortunate that we can't advance with this group because we have a good basketball team."
With the loss, Blinn ends the season with a 21-10 overall record after going 8-9 in Region XIV regular season play.
Rainey recorded a game-high 19 points to lead Blinn's offense. He scored 17 points in the second half and led Blinn with eight assists and three three-pointers. JaQuan Morris and Uriel Velis each chipped in 10 points, while Tease followed with nine. On defense, Tristan Ikpe led Blinn with six rebounds.
After falling behind 11-0, Blinn outscored Kilgore by 20 points to lead 35-26 at the break. Ikpe sunk two free throws to score Blinn's first points with 15:23 on the clock. Nic Tata followed with a layup that began a 12-0 run for Blinn. During the run, Ikpe's free throw evened the score 19-19 at the 6:48 mark. In the final five minutes of the half, Morris scored 10 points, delivering two three-pointers, two free throws and one two-pointer. His first shot of the game was a three-pointer to give Blinn its first lead, 22-19.
Kilgore opened the second half on a 10-2 run to gain on Blinn, however the Buccaneers still held onto a one-point lead. Rainey sunk back-to-back three-pointers to keep Blinn ahead 48-43 and the Buccaneers held the advantage through the entire second half until Kilgore scored five straight points to tie the game 57-57 with 6:21 remaining. Kilgore scored the next two points to take a lead and hold it for over five minutes until Rainey's third three-pointer evened the score, 65-65. Kilgore took the lead for good with 50 seconds left.
Blinn has competed in intercollegiate athletics since 1903 and captured 38 NJCAA national championships since 1987.