Bruised and battered, Lady Hornets battle back to edge Central
EDITOR’S NOTE: Because the look back at each day in Bryant athletic history has been so favorably received during the time when there was no sports during the COVID-19 shutdown, BryantDaily.com will continueposting past stories of Bryant athletics either posted on BryantDaily.com (from 2009 to the present) or published in the Bryant Times (from 1998 to 2008).
By Rob Patrick
John Wayne’s Rooster Cogburn would’ve been proud of the Bryant Lady Hornets on Tuesday night.
With a truly gritty performance, the Lady Hornets battled back from one deficit after another in a game so rugged that 46 fouls weren’t enough to cover them all.
Alana Morris, who missed a pair of free throws with 2:23 to play, converted two under pressure with :34.7 left. The first tied the Lady Hornets with the Little Rock Central Lady Tigers and, after a timeout, her second gave Bryant a 55-54 lead that held up for a victory.
Central had two shots after that including a long 3-point try by Lesley Craft at the buzzer that wouldn’t fall and Bryant held on for the victory in a battle between two of the three teams tied for second in the 7A-Central Conference.
The Lady Hornets improve to 17-3 overall and 5-2 in the league while the Lady Tigers fall to 10-9 and 4-3.[more]
“They never gave up,” said Bryant head coach Blake Condley of his team. “They got in some deep holes and fought back out of those holes. We just made enough plays down the stretch to win the game. I mean, just enough. The girls made some big plays.”
Central’s last field goal was 3-pointer by freshman Jamie Ruffins with 6:15 left, giving her team a 49-45 lead. Over the next two minutes, the Lady Tigers hit enough free throws to extend the margin to 53-45.
With 4:06, Bryant’s Kenzee Calley was fouled (several times) on a drive to the hoop and earned a trip to the free-throw line. She converted twice to start Bryant’s surge to victory.After a Central miss, Haley Montgomery hit a layup off a drive to the rack, cutting the lead back to 4.
After a Central timeout, Bryant’s Abbi Stearns jumped out and rejected a 3-point attempt by Jayla Tucker. And when the ball ricocheted out of bounds off of Tucker, Bryant had a chance to trim the lead further.
With 3:03 to go, a sweet pass from Morris resulted in a layup for Montgomery, making it 53-51.
Moments later, however, Montgomery picked up her fifth foul. With 2:43 left to play, Central’s Shawnessi Arnold, who led all scorers with 19 points, hit one of her two free throws to make it a 3-point game.
Morris had a chance to answer 20 seconds later but couldn’t get either shot to drop. But Stearns came through with another block on Lesley Craft who appeared to be on her way to a clean layup. Stearns snatched the carom and, at the other end, Hannah Goshien grabbed an offensive rebound and scored to get Bryant within a point, 54-53 with 1:31 showing.
Craft missed a 3-point try and Goshien battled for the rebound leading to the foul that sent Morris to the line with :34.7 left.
The game was so rugged, players hit the floor repeatedly. Under the boards, it was a melee.
“It was very physical,” Condley acknowledged. “I figured it would be physical but there were bodies flying everywhere. We’ve got some sore hands and wrists from when our girls were catching themselves on the floor. They’re banged up. And Brooke (Parish), who’s had some back trouble, was hurting.”
It took a while for the Lady Hornets to get accustomed to the Lady Tigers aggressive bump-and-grind defense. And Central took advantage by rushing out to an 11-0 lead to start the game.
When Parish was fouled at the 5:19 mark of the first quarter and sent to the line, the Lady Hornets had been unable to attempt a single shot while turning the ball over seven times.
Though Parish couldn’t get a free throw to go, Morris blocked a shot by Tucker and, at the other end, Shanika Johnson was fouled. Her free throw broke the ice for Bryant and the Lady Hornets gradually whittled on the lead.
They still trailed 18-10 with 1:28 left in the quarter. After Calley took a charge, Johnson, who led the Lady Hornets with 13 points, drained a 3. And just before the end of the quarter, Morris flipped a no-look pass to Stearns for a layup that had Bryant within 18-15.
Condley revealed what he’d said to his team during a timeout along the way, saying, “I told them, ‘Hey, you’re a group of seniors, let’s act like it. Keep fighting, keep doing all the little things that you know will help you win, rebounding, keep trying to play good defense.’ Ultimitately, I feel like just experience and knowing how to finish were the difference.”
Bryant eventually pulled ahead with a 5-0 spurt midway through the second quarter. Montgomery hit a pair of her quick-draw free throws then Morris fed Goshien for a basket to tie it. Calley hit a free throw with 4:34 left in the period to give her team a 25-24 edge.
But it didn’t last long. Central continued to attack, closing out the half with an 11-1 run, taking a 35-26 lead into the locker room.
Condley related, “We talked at halftime. We were just trying to get them to not worry about if the refs are calling a foul or not. I said, ‘They’re going to call some of the fouls but, if they don’t call it, you don’t have time to lay on the floor and worry about it. You’ve got to get back up and keep playing.’ There were a lot of times when we’d get knocked to the floor and there might not be a foul called. You can’t afford to stay there. You’ve got to get up and keep playing.”
Central still led 39-30 going into the last four minutes of the third quarter. But consecutive three-point plays by Morris sparked Bryant. Montgomery made a steal and hit two more free throws with 2:05 left and the margin was down to 1. And, after Central’s DeAndre Arline missed the front end of a one-and-one, Johnson flipped in another 3, giving Bryant a 41-39 lead going into the final minute of the period.
The Lady Tigers, however, closed the quarter with a free throw from Sarah Flood and a 3 by Craft to regain the advantage.
With Bryant in a zone due to foul trouble, Arnold and Ruffins buried a 3 each early in the fourth quarter, trading shots with Johnson who’s soft touch was evident when her trey at the 6:39 mark balanced on the rim and fell through.
That’s when Bryant went quiet for a while and free throws by Arnold, Flood and Craft built the 53-45 lead that the Lady Hornets ultimately overcame for the win.
The Lady Hornets play at Mount St. Mary Academy in Little Rock on Friday.
LADY HORNETS 55, LADY TIGERS 54
Score by quarters
LR Central 18 17 8 11 — 54
BRYANT 15 11 15 14 — 55
LADY TIGERS (10-9, 4-3)
Player fg-fga ft-fta reb fls pts
Arnold 6-12 6-8 0-2 2 2 19
Craft 2-7 4-4 3-1 4 3 9
Arline 2-4 1-3 0-1 1 5 5
Ruffins 1-1 4-4 0-1 1 3 7
Tucker 1-7 0-0 1-5 6 2 2
Leonard 4-10 2-3 1-2 3 4 10
Flood 0-1 2-6 0-1 1 5 2
Caster 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0
Knox 0-0 0-0 0-1 1 0 0
Team 1-2 3
Totals 16-42 19-28 6-16 22 24 54
LADY HORNETS (17-3, 5-2)
Player fg-fga ft-fta reb fls pts
Montgomery 2-3 6-6 0-2 2 5 10
Goshien 2-6 0-0 2-1 3 2 4
Calley 1-2 6-9 1-4 5 3 8
Stearns 3-5 1-3 2-5 7 3 7
Morris 2-9 6-8 3-5 8 1 10
Johnson 4-11 2-4 2-1 3 4 13
Parish 0-0 3-6 0-1 1 4 3
Team 1-3 4
Totals 14-36 24-36 11-22 33 22 55
Three-point field goals: Little Rock Central 3-12 (Craft 1-5, Arnold 1-3, Ruffins 1-1, Tucker 0-2, Leonard 0-1), Bryant 3-10 (Johnson 3-5, Goshien 0-3, Montgomery 0-1, Morris 0-1). Turnovers: Little Rock Central 15, Bryant 17.