[Editor’s Note: This story first ran in the Brenham Banner-Press on Jan. 13, 2011.]
The Blinn P.E. Building was eerily quiet following the Buccaneers’ game Wednesday night.
Blinn coach Tra Arnold leaned quietly against a wall near his team’s locker rooms, collecting his thoughts and reliving the events that had occurred just moments before on the basketball court.
His team, with a seven-point lead and less than six minutes left in the game, saw those points vanish into an 85-83 loss to Lee College.
What’s most painful for him is uncertain.
The fact that a blatant foul wasn’t called when his leading scorer, Dylan Talley, put up a 3-point prayer at half court as the buzzer sounded?
Or that his team was 10-of-18 from the free throw line in the second half, and 1-of-6 on free throws that could have given the Bucs the lead or tied the score in the game’s final minute.
Or maybe it could be the fluke bucket near the 15-minute mark of the second half, as the Bucs inbounded a pass in Lee territory, only for the ball to hit off a Blinn player and into Lee’s basket for a free two points for the Rebels. It was a shot that, at the time, didn’t seem to be too costly as Blinn still carried a nine-point lead.
But there is one thing that is certain. Arnold’s Buccaneers (11-6, 2-4) just suffered a heartbreaking loss at the hands of a Rebels team that was 0-5 in conference play and 8-9 overall heading into the game.
“It was a bad night for us. Things didn’t go our way,” Arnold said. “Not a good loss at home for us at all.”
The Rebels would score a quick four points at the start of the second half to tie the score 41-41, but the Bucs would respond with Bakari Turner hitting two treys and Talley and Felipe Vezaro scoring another nine to take a 56-45 lead.
But the offense came to a screeching halt with five minutes left to play.
Quasim Jones hit the Bucs’ last field goal of the game at the 5:14 mark, giving Blinn what seemed to be a nice 81-74 lead. But Lee’s man defense froze the Blinn offense, not allowing them in the paint and contesting shots from outside.
The only points Blinn would score after Jones’ bucket were from a free throw apiece from Turner and Talley.
The lack of offense allowed Lee to end the game on a 11-2 run and hand the Bucs their sixth loss on the season and fourth in conference play.
In a game that saw eight lead changes, split at four apiece between the two teams, the Rebels took their first lead of the second half with 1:41 to go when Lee’s Cedric Martin made two free throws courtesy of a technical foul that was called on Arnold.
After a free throw by Talley tied the game at 83 apiece, Lee’s Leroy Isler put the Rebels ahead by two after driving to the hoop for a layup. Blinn had a chance to tie the score when Talley was fouled with 1.7 seconds left, but he missed his first shot, forcing him to intentionally miss his second for a chance for Blinn to tip in the rebound. But a lane violation was called against the Bucs, giving Lee the ball.
On the ensuing inbounds pass, Lee tried to hurl the ball past half court, but the 6-foot-5 Talley picked it off. He dribbled once and then fired a prayer to the basket, surrounded by Lee players that ran into him as he shot.
Buzzer. And no whistle from the refs, causing a firestorm from Arnold, who followed the referees into their changing room.
Lee’s 6-foot-10 post Andre Jackson barreled through Blinn’s defense for 31 points on the night, and most of his damage came in the second half as he scored 19 points after halftime.
“We tried to double-team him,” Arnold said. “But he was just too overpowering.”