By Rob Patrick
Photos by Rick Nation and Kevin Nagle
The Bryant Lady Hornets didn’t spend much of Tuesday night’s game against the Mount[more] St. Mary’s Belles in the lead. But when it counted, they pulled ahead and stayed there in a 35-34 victory.
Dezerea Duckworth, who scored 20 of the Lady Hornets’ points, drove for a layup and was fouled with 1:03 left to play, giving her team that 1-point edge. She missed, however, on the free throw only to have teammate Courtney Davidson maneuver between two Mount players for the rebound.
Lady Hornets head coach Brad Matthews called a timeout with :59.6 showing and had his team go into a delay. But a rare three-second lane violation cost them with :44.8 left to play.
Mount St. Mary coach Gary Murphy took a timeout to set up a play. Bryant’s defense kept the Belles from getting a shot off until Murphy called another timeout with :21.5 showing. This time, he had his team clear out the left side for shooting buard Ellie Bilger and post player Mallory Kleine. Bilger got it in to Kleine who was double-teamed. Kleine kicked it back out to Bilger who launched a 3-point try and missed.
Bryant’s Whitney Meyer yanked down her ninth rebound of the game and was fouled with :05.5 showing. As it turned out, it was just the sixth team foul against the Belles so the Lady Hornets would inbound the ball in the backcourt after a timeout by Matthews.
On the inbounds play, the ball got loose and no one seemed to be able to claim it. Apparently, the Belles had it long enough to get a timeout called with the clock reading :00.4. After a consultation, the officials added :00.5 to that and awarded the Belles the ball out of the timeout.
With little time to shoot, they got it in to Nikki Sanders who forced a 3-point try that went wayward as the nail-biter concluded.
“I was proud of our kids,” Matthews said. “I think it’s a tribute to the way we’ve been practicing for two months, the commitment and the togetherness. All those things show up in the last two minutes of a game.”
The Lady Hornets had led only 4-0 at the start of the game on baskets by Logan Davis and Duckworth, and 13-12 with 5:39 left in the second quarter when Davidson drained a 3 to cap a 9-0 run.
Mount had countered the opening salvo with a 10-0 streak to end the first quarter, sparked by Kleine who scored 7 of her team-high 13 points during that stretch. After Bryant’s answering blitz, the Belles closed out the second quarter on a 9-3 stretch that had them up 22-16 at the break.
Their largest lead was 29-21 late in the third.
“We were down against Vilonia and found a way to come back on the road to start (the season) off,” Matthews reminded. “We were down again tonight. We kept hanging in.
“I thought we rebounded better in the second half and our kids made plays down the stretch,” he continued. “Dezerea obviously played well offensively but Courtney got a big rebound on the missed free throw and Whitney made a huge rebound there at the end.”
The coach admitted that Kleine, the daughter of former Arkansas Razorbacn and NBA player Joe Kleine, threw the Bryant game plan a curveball during the Belle’s early run by stepping out and canning a 3.
“Mallory Kleine is a good player,” he stated. “She stepped out and hit that 3 and that wasn’t in the scouting report. Mallory’s pretty strong and pretty athletic but I thought Whitney held her own. I thought Whitney played well. (Kleine) had that one little spurt but I thought, in the second and third quarter, we did a good job of guarding her. We tried to help off a little bit, not making it as easy.”
To open the second quarter, Davis drove for a layup and Davidson added a free throw. Following a pair of charity tosses by Bilger, Duckworth kept the comeback going with a three-point play. And, after a turnover by the Belles, Davidson flushed a triple to give the Lady Hornets a brief edge.
Free throws by Jaynee Arroyo put Mount back up. Bilger’s three-point play made it 17-13 but Davis drilled a 3 to cut it back to 1.
The Belles, however, ended the half with a 5-0 surge that included baskets by Arroyo and Emma Kauffman.
The second half began with Duckworth burying a trey then making a steal. But Kleine blocked her shot and, at the other end, got the free-throw line where she converted twice to start a 7-2 stretch interrupted only by Meyer’s stickback.
The result was the 29-21 advantage. But that streak by the Belles was answered with a 6-0 answer by the Lady Hornets. Duckworth hit a short jumper and, moments later, scored on an inbounds play off a feed from Davis to make it 29-26 going into the fourth quarter. Davis’ driving layup trimmed the margin to 1 as the final period began but, after a Belles’ timeout, Kleine hit the offensive glass for a bucket and Gracie Sloan hit a jumper to push the lead back to 33-28.
That was with 6:00 to go and, the rest of the game, Mount was limited to a free throw by Slone with 1:24 to go that snapped a 33-33 tie.
Bryant had knotted it with 3:59 left on a follow shot by Duckworth. Sloan missed a jumper at the other end and the Lady Hornets ran some clock before missing a shot. The two teams traded misses before Sloan’s free throw set the stage for the dramatic conclusion.
“It’s a good way to go into Thanksgiving,” Matthews said. “Our kids have been busting their rears since Aug. 21. It’s a good time to get them a couple of days’ break here before we start getting ready for a tough CAC Tournament next week.”
The Lady Hornets open that tourney at Central Arkansas Christian Academy on Thursday, Nov. 29, against the Camden Fairview Lady Cardinals.
LADY HORNETS 35, BELLES 34
Score by quarters
Mount St. Mary 10 12 7 5 — 34
BRYANT 4 12 10 9 — 35
Player fg-fga ft-fta reb fls pts
Kauffman 2-6 1-2 0-2 2 1 5
Bilger 1-6 3-3 1-3 4 0 5
Stuff 0-2 1-2 0-3 3 0 1
Sloan 2-5 1-2 0-1 1 3 6
Kleine 5-13 2-2 2-4 6 4 13
Sowell 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0
Wiensinger 0-1 0-0 0-0 0 1 0
Sanders 0-1 0-0 1-1 2 2 0
Arroyo 1-2 2-2 2-1 3 0 4
Team 0-4 4
Totals 11-36 10-13 6-19 25 11 34
LADY HORNETS 35
Player fg-fga ft-fta reb fls pts
Davis 4-11 0-0 2-0 2 2 9
Duckworth 8-16 2-4 2-4 6 4 20
Weaver 0-3 0-0 0-1 1 1 0
Scarlett 0-0 0-0 0-2 2 1 0
Meyer 1-5 0-0 3-6 9 2 2
Davidson 1-7 1-2 1-2 3 2 4
Nichols 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 1 0
Murphy 0-0 0-0 0-1 1 0 0
Smith 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0
Team 1-4 5
Totals 14-42 3-6 9-20 29 13 35
Three-point field goals: Mount St. Mary 2-5 (Sloan 1-3, Kleine 1-1, Bilger 0-1, Sanders 0-1), Bryant 4-11 (Duckworth 2-3, Davis 1-4, Davidson 1-3, Weaver 0-1). Turnovers: Mount St. Mary 8, Bryant 10.