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By LARRY MORITZ
Prior to Monday afternoon, this simple, two-word phrase — “Blinn wins!” — had never been uttered at the NJCAA Women’s Championship basketball tournament.
Blinn College out of Brenham, Texas, picked up the first national tourney victory in the program’s history when the Buccaneers downed Kaskaskia (Ill.) College 72-63 in the opening round at the Bicentennial Center.
It was a 19-0 run in the first half that put Blinn in front for good, and the nine-point final margin was as close as Kaskaskia ever got in the second half.
“This is only the second time Blinn has been at the national tournament and the first was in 1989,” Blinn coach Jeff Jenkins said. “This is also the first time we’ve won a game here.
“Our school record for wins had been 26, and now we’ve won 31.”
Blinn will take its 31-3 record into today’s second-round contest and face Darton State (Ga.) at 4:30 p.m. The winner of that game advances to Thursday’s quarterfinals. Kaskaskia ended its season at 24-9. Blinn’s only three losses have come to No. 1 seed Trinity Valley CC.
A 3-pointer from reserve Makeba Elliott put the Blue Angels up 15-14, which proved to be Kaskaskia’s only lead in the game. Blinn held its opponent scoreless over the next 13 possessions, while freshman Fatima Adams had 13 points in the Buccaneers’ run of 19 unanswered.
Up 33-15, Blinn maintained that 18-point advantage into halftime. Not only did the Buccaneers lead 48-30 at the break, they also owned a 38-15 rebounding advantage.
“For us to score 48 points at halftime, we had to make some shots,” Jenkins said. “Fatima Adams was just spectacular the first half.
“The second half we had trouble making those shots. We’ve played better, but so have they I’m sure.”
The teams had two points each in the first four minutes of the second half. After Kaskaskia was down by as many as 20, the Blue Aces cut that margin in half, trailing 52-42 with more than 12 minutes to play.
Blinn was able to stretch its lead back to 17 points on buckets from Jazzmin Parker, Audrisa Harrison and Moe Bedford. Only a 14-6 run to close the game enabled Kaskaskia to move the deficit below 10 for the first time in the second half.
Adams had all 19 of her points in the first half and finished with a double-double, grabbing 13 rebounds. Harrison had 16 points and 18 boards, while Parker also finished with 16 points. Adrina LaVern’s 20 points led the way for the Blue Angels.