By Rob Patrick
MAUMELLE — The Bryant Hornets faced an attack on Friday night — attacking full-court pressure[more] defense; attacking, driving offense; and relentless attacks on the boards — from the Maumelle Hornets. But, after getting the hang of it and overcoming an early 7-0 deficit, Bryant established a lead before the end of the first quarter and answered every Maumelle charge on the way to a 57-53 win.
And those charges kept coming right up until the final seconds. Bryant made just enough free throws including a clincher by Zach Cambron with :03.2 left to hang on for the challenging win. Bryant was 11 of 18 from the line in the final quarter, part of a 23-of-31 night from the line.
Point guard C.J. Rainey, who was named Bryant’s player of the game, was 9 of 10 at the stripe, part of his game-high 17 points. Cambron finished with 12 points and K.J. Hill 11 to go with a team-high five boards.
Maumelle, under first-year head coach Michael Shook (a Bryant alum), was paced by Anthony Turner and Kendall Donnerson with 11 points each.
The win kept Bryant unbeaten in three games this season. They’ll play for the championship of the OrthoArkansas/Baptist Health Invitational Tournament tonight at 6 p.m., against the host Central Arkansas Christian Mustangs.
“I knew going in what a great experience it was going to be for us, whatever happened,” said Bryant coach Mike Abrahamson. “Of course, I was hoping we’d be able to come out with a win. Not a lot of teams press us but that’s what they do and they’re sticking with their program. It’s unlike anything we’ve seen really since I’ve been at Bryant. I mean, nobody really plays that style that relentlessly, that many bodies and just keeps coming at you no matter what. It was just a good experience to grow our team.
“We knew it was coming,” he continued.
“We knew it was going to happen. It was just a matter of how we handled it. The pressure, I thought we handled really well. It was keeping them off the boards that really seemed to kill us. Our first-shot defense was pretty good but when you let them shoot until they make it, that’s tough.”
In fact, Bryant, which pressed a lot too, forced more turnovers (24) than Maumelle did (16), but Maumelle out-rebounded Bryant 34-15 with 17 boards on the offensive end.
But Bryant shot 50 percent from the field (16 of 32) and got to the line. Maumelle attempted 16 more field goals (22 of 48) but struggled at the line (7 of 16).
“I’m real proud of my players,” Abrahamson said. “We’ve got a bunch of exhausted guys but we’re going to have to bounce back tomorrow and try to finish this out. C.J., K.J. and Zach were anchors for us tonight.”
Bryant got 6 points each off the bench from Tyler Simmons and Greyson Giles. Luke Rayburn chipped in with 3 and Brian Reed had 2.
Maumelle’s initial surge was sparked by Turner inside. Bryant didn’t get on the board until Rainey got to the hoop with 4:53 left in the first quarter. Cambron added a pair of free throws and Hill drove for a layup to cut the lead to 1. A tip-in credited to Maumelle’s Cole Thomas (though it went off a Bryant players hands on a contested rebound) interrupted Bryant’s run but the Hornets closed out the quarter with 9 straight points, making it a 15-2 blitz.
Simmons rained a 3, Reed got a layup off a feed from Rainey, Hill canned a running jumper and Rainey connected on his first two free throws with :05.5 on the clock, making it 15-9.
Maumelle took its turn at a run to start the second quarter, spurred by a couple of baskets by Kendall Terry. When Turner scored inside with 5:25 left in the half, the game was even at 15-15.
After a Bryant timeout and a Maumelle miss, Cambron came through with a three-point play to keep the Hornets ahead. And Rayburn followed with another off a drive to the rack.
Suddenly, Bryant was back up by 6. And, by the end of the half, the margin was 32-22. Rainey made a sparkling feed to Hill for a layup then took a dish from Cambron for a three-point play. In the final minute, Cambron scored twice inside, once after a Rainey save on a loose ball. A layup off a steal by the Bryant point guard produced the first double-digit advantage with :38 showing.
Donnerson, who didn’t play in the first half, gave Maumelle a lift in the post in the second half. He helped trim the lead to 6 in the third quarter but another three-point play by Rainey after he, Reed and Cambron had combined to force a turnover kept the Hornets in front. It was 39-32 going into the fourth quarter.
Maumelle’s surge continued in the fourth, however, and when Gary Burton knocked down a 10 footer with 6:19 left, the Bryant lead was down to 39-37.
After a timeout, Hill got to the line but couldn’t get the front end of the one-and-one to fall. But Giles came up with a steal that led to another trip to the stripe for Rainey and two free throws that extended the Bryant lead to 41-37.
But Donnerson posted up for an answering bucket and Maumelle got a chance to tie the game when Giles had a basket wiped away by a charging call. At the other end, however, Cambron stood in and took a charge on Donnerson to give Bryant a chance to push the margin again. And Simmons took advantage by knocking down a clutch 3-pointer from the right wing.
That started an 8-2 run by Bryant that included baskets by Hill and Giles, which created a 49-41 lead with 2:26 left. Maumelle wouldn’t go away, however. Turner drove for a layup and, after Rainey hit a free throw, Jeremy Collins nailed a triple and the lead was back to 4.
Free throws by Cambron and Giles were countered by a three-point play from Donnerson and, with 1:32 left, it was 53-49. Donnerson followed with a steal only to have Simmons swipe the ball back for Bryant, leading to a free throw by Hill to make it a 5-point lead with :46.6 left.
Though Cambron took another charge to frustrate Donnerson, he came back after a Bryant turnover to knock down an 8-footer that had Maumelle within 54-51 with :12.8 showing.
Rainey was fouled with :10.9 to go and came through by draining both free throws. A stickback by Maumelle’s Tyshun Robinson cut the lead to 56-53. Maumelle took a timeout with :03.9 to go in hopes of forcing a turnover and getting a game-tying 3.
But, when play resumed, Cambron got the inbounds pass from Hill and was fouled. Though he missed the first shot at the line, keeping Maumelle’s fading hopes alive, he was pure on the second, clinching the victory.
BRYANT 57, MAUMELLE 53
Score by quarters
Maumelle 9 13 10 21 — 53
BRYANT 15 17 7 18 — 57
Player fg-fga ft-fta reb fls pts
Minix 0-2 0-0 1-2 3 3 0
McKinney 1-3 1-2 0-0 0 0 4
Burton 4-6 0-1 1-7 8 3 8
Robinson 4-11 0-0 6-2 8 2 8
Turner 4-4 3-8 1-2 3 4 11
Cox 0-2 0-0 1-0 1 0 0
Terry 3-3 0-0 2-0 2 2 6
Thomas 1-2 0-0 0-1 1 2 2
Collins 1-2 0-0 0-0 0 5 3
Canada 0-1 0-0 0-0 0 0 0
Lewis 0-1 0-0 0-1 1 0 0
Staton 0-1 0-0 0-0 0 1 0
Conner 0-0 0-0 0-1 1 0 0
Donnerson 4-10 3-5 2-1 3 3 11
Jernigan 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 2 0
Team 3-0 3
Totals 22-48 7-16 17-17 34 27 53
Player fg-fga ft-fta reb fls pts
Rainey 4-9 9-10 1-0 1 1 17
Rayburn 1-2 1-1 0-1 1 1 3
Hill 4-7 3-6 0-5 5 4 11
Davis 0-0 0-0 0-1 1 1 0
Cambron 3-6 6-9 1-2 3 2 12
Simmons 2-5 0-1 0-1 1 3 6
Giles 1-2 4-4 0-0 0 5 6
Reed 1-1 0-0 0-1 1 3 2
Team 1-1 2
Totals 16-32 23-31 3-12 15 20 57
Three-point field goals: Maumelle 2-11 (McKinney 1-3, Collins 1-1, Robinson 0-4, Minix 0-2, Staton 0-1), Bryant 2-8 (Simmons 2-4, Rainey 0-1, Hill 0-1, Cambron 0-1, Giles 0-1). Turnovers: Maumelle 24, Bryant 16.