The Blinn men’s basketball team is well on its way to forging a new identity this season.
The Buccaneers are doing so beyond starting with a fresh slate of players –– only three return from last year’s team –– they’re doing so by winning the close games they struggled to close out a year prior.
Thursday night, for the second time in three games, a late free throw by freshman Lionheart Leslie iced yet another Blinn victory.
The Bucs beat the Houston Blaze 111-107 at the Blinn P.E. Building.
“We really moved the ball well on offense, really worked to get the ball out to the open player,” Blinn (3-0) coach Scott Schumacher said. “I was pleased with how they pushed the ball in transition and played with an up-tempo offense.”
Leslie drained two late free throws in the Bucs’ season opener against Victoria College Nov. 1 to seal a 65-62 Blinn win –– marking two of their wins this season by four points or less. Last year, Blinn lost 12 games by five points or less.
After the Blaze cut Blinn’s lead to three points on a 3-pointer with 22 second remaining, the Bucs drained the clock following a timeout that led to Leslie being fouled.
Leslie then sunk his second free throw to give Blinn a four-point lead and the win.
Down 60-46 at halftime, the Blaze lived up to their name and caught fire to cut Blinn’s 22-point lead to six.
“They’re a talented group of guys,” Schumacher said of the Blaze, a team that consists of international basketball players who come back to the United States during the offseason.
Sophomore Macari Brooks, one of the three Blinn returners, led the scoring for the Bucs with 27 points. Freshman Roderick Harris scored 17 points, and Cornell Barnett and Leslie scored 14 points.
Jacoby Green scored 12 points.
“I think that’s one of our strengths is we have a lot of players who can play,” Schumacher said.
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