Feb. 21, 2013
Florida Atlantic University women's basketball junior guard Briah Blakely had many reasons to play well in the team's game at the University of North Texas on Wednesday, February 20 in Denton, Texas.
How about 70?
Briah, a Dallas native, had nearly 70 family and friends in attendance to watch her play near her hometown. They weren't all there to lend her support in the important Sun Belt Conference game.
The group had a reason to celebrate North Texas accomplishments as well. Briah's younger sister, Braylah, is a sophomore forward for the Mean Green. The large Blakely rooting section could be easily seen sitting opposite the team benches - they were wearing t-shirts to commemorate the special family reunion.
This marked the second time that the two sisters had battled on the court. And, on both occasions, Briah, the older sister, got the best of Braylah. Florida Atlantic rallied to defeat the Mean Green 73-60 on Wednesday behind Briah's career-high 13 points. The Owls were also victorious 79-60 on January 19 to sweep the regular-season series.
That January encounter was the first time the Blakely siblings had squared off against each other.
"It's certainly a different feeling. She (Braylah) has always been my teammate, and we know each other so well," Briah told me earlier this season. "As long as we (FAU) win the game, that's all I care about."
The games are special and at the same time nerve-racking for the family. I especially enjoyed the eruption inside North Texas' The Super Pit when Briah was announced as a starting player for the Owls. Family members and friends also erupted whenever she made a shot.
"The family will be split down the middle. They will support both family members. There are no favorites," said Briah, who starred at McLennan Community College in Texas before moving to FAU. "I fell in love with what (Coach) Lewis-Jay is trying to do offensively and defensively. I could see myself contributing right away."
For the season, Briah has started 25 of the Owls' 26 games this season, is averaging 5.4 points a game and leads the team by making 39.5 percent of her three-point field goals.
FAU and North Texas could play one more time this season if the teams square off in the upcoming Sun Belt Conference Championship Tournament. The basketball dreams of one family member would come to an end in that match up.