SALINA, Kan. – The greatest season in Blinn College basketball history came to a close here Thursday after the top-seeded Trinity Valley Lady Cardinals defeated the Buccaneer women 90-69 in the quarterfinals of the NJCAA National Championships.
It marked the fourth time the Buccaneers (32-4) have lost this season and four losses have come against Trinity Valley, the defending national champion.
Shannon Smith, who transferred to Trinity Valley from the University of North Carolina and has since signed with the University of Michigan, scored a game-high 31 points and made 7 of 10 shots from 3-point range to lead the Lady Cardinals. Trinity Valley shot 40 percent from the floor and was 12-of-25 from 3-point range.
“We couldn’t guard her,” Blinn coach Jeff Jenkins said. “She’s tough because she can make threes on you or drive to the hole.”
Shlonte Allen scored 17 and Victoria Wells added 10 for Trinity Valley (34-1), which advances to face Gulf Coast State in the tournament semifinals.
Freshman forward Fatima Adams, an all-Region XIV Conference selection out of Bryan Rudder High School, led the Buccaneers with 27 points as she was 13-of-14 from the free throw line. She also grabbed 11 rebounds.
“She found her mismatch tonight,” Jenkins said. “She took advantage inside and they had problems defending her. She’s the best freshman post I’ve ever had.”
Sophomore forward Audrisa Harrison, playing her final game in Buccaneer blue, scored 18 points while making 12 of 14 from the charity stripe. She led all players with 14 rebounds.
“We’re going to miss her,” Jenkins said. “She’s probably the hardest-working, most focused, consistent player I’ve ever had.”
The Buccaneers shot 33-of-41 from the free throw line but were 0-for-4 from 3-point range.
Trinity Valley jumped out to a 14-0 lead in the game’s opening minutes and led 44-29 at halftime.
“You’re never going to stop Trinity Valley’s offense, so we needed to score with them early and we couldn’t do it for the first 10 minutes,” Jenkins said.
The loss ends an historic season for Buccaneer basketball. Jenkins, in his 11th season at Blinn, surpassed 200 career wins and became the winningest coach in program history. The Buccaneers’ 32 victories shattered the previous single-season wins record of 26, and Blinn’s national tournament victories over Kaskaskia, Ill. and Darton, Ga. marked the first national tournament wins in program history. This marked the second national tournament appearance in team history and its first since 1989.
Sophomores Harrison, Jazzmin Parker, Khalisha Lee and Aarika Reyna, and redshirt freshman Michelle Umachi led Blinn to 54 victories over the last two years, more than any other class in Blinn history.
“We’re going to miss them,” Jenkins said. “We told them after the game there’s a chance that 25 years from now they’ll come back to campus and that will still be our wins record. We play hard and we’re competitive most years, but it took 35 years for us to get a 30-win season. There’s a good chance that one will be in the record books for a long time.”
For more information on Blinn basketball, visit www.buccaneersports.com.