Conway Blue holds on to edge Lady Hornets freshmen in scoring fest

By Rob Patrick

CONWAY — In 22 previous games, the most[more] the Bryant Lady Hornets freshman team had given up to an opponent was 41 points. And the most they’d scored in a game was 47.

But the offenses were rolling on Monday night when they visited the Conway Blue Lady Wampus Kittens at Buzz Bolding Arena and both of those high marks were shattered. The Lady Hornets scored 48 but, unfortunately, the Lady Kittens amassed 52 to avenge a 34-32 loss at Bryant earlier in the season.

The Lady Hornets include Aubree Allen, Jessica Alliston, Andrea Buford, Ashlee Caton, Caylin Choate, Dezarea Duckworth, Kaitlyn Greer, Keedy Harrison, Taylor Matthews, Dee-Dee Mosby, Melinda Murdock, Amber Newman, Destiny Nichols, Brittany Privett, Erica Smith, Rori Whittaker and Alex Wright.

Now 13-10 overall and 4-3 in conference play, the Lady Hornets are set to finish the regular season this evening with a make-up game against Lake Hamilton. With a win, they will probably be the No. 4 seed in the league’s post-season tournament, which begins this weekend in Benton. A loss would probably make them a five seed so they were all but set to play in the 4-5 match-up at 1 p.m., this Saturday.

The Lady Hornets and Lady Kittens both came into the game with two league losses. With the win, Conway Blue gained the inside track for the No. 3 seed as it concluded its regular-season slate.

“We didn’t play as well as we needed to play,” stated Bryant coach Nathan Castaldi. “We haven’t given up 52 points in a game all year. We scored a bunch but, defensively, we just didn’t get enough stops at the end.

“(Conway Blue) did a good job of executing their offense,” he related. “Used a lot of ball screens where we would help then they’d make one extra pass and get that easy one or we’d end up fouling.”

In fact, the Lady Kittens went 18 of 31 from the free-throw line while Bryant was 9 of 14. Conway’s Sidney Mitchum was 14 of 19 all by herself.

The game still came down to the final minute. With :39 left, Allen scored on an inbounds play under the Bryant basket to tie it 48-48. She then helped create an opportunity to take a lead when the ball was knocked loose in the Conway end of the court. Allen dove on the ball but when she bounced as she gained possession, she was called for traveling.

Conway Blue, given another chance, snapped the tie when Alyssa Strickland was fouled at the :19.7 mark and converted one of her two shots as Allen fouled out.

After a timeout, the Lady Hornets brought the ball into the front court but a feed headed into the post to Erica Smith was intercepted by Mitchum. Duckworth tried to foul her immediately but no call was forthcoming so she got a little rougher to make sure the official cited it only to be hit with an intentional foul call with :06.6 to go. That meant that not only would Mitchum get two free throws but the Lady Kittens would retain possession.

So when Mitchum made one of two shots to make it a 2-point game, Bryant had no choice but to foul again immediately on Conway’s inbounds play. Mitchum was the recipient and, with :04.3 left, she put the game away by knocking down both shots.

Mitchum finished with 20 points. Strickland and Micaela Norment added 11 each. Duckworth, who was on fire to start the game hitting five of her six shots in the first quarter, wound up with a game-high 21 points. Allen, after being held to one shot attempt in the first half, added 13 in the second half and finished with a game-high 10 rebounds.

“We did a good job offensively, got a lot of easy looks,” Castaldi noted. “We executed our offense. We just didn’t get stops when we needed them.”

The Lady Hornets shot 58 percent from the field (19-of-33). 

Actually, Conway Blue gained the upper hand in the second quarter when a 15-12 Bryant lead turned into a 27-20 halftime edge for the Lady Kittens. Bryant actually outscored Conway Blue 28-25 in the second half.

The Lady Kittens got a few more opportunities despite being out-rebounded 27-22. They forced 27 Bryant turnovers while committing 20 of their own.

Conway Blue led 9-5 early but Duckworth caught fire and, with two baskets in the final 30 seconds of the opening quarter, had the Lady Hornets up 15-12.

The game was tied at 17 two minutes in the second period when Conway Blue went on a 10-1 run. Keedy Harrison canned a jumper from the wing to end a stretch of almost four minutes since the Lady Hornets’ previous field goal.

In the second half, Bryant cut the lead to 3 on baskets by Allen and Duckworth but Conway Blue, spurred by Norment’s 7 points in the quarter maintained the upper hand until the final 2:30 of the period. Whittaker fed Smith for a basket inside then a three-point play by Allen trimmed the lead to 2. After a Conway miss, Duckworth hit a layup off an assist from Smith, trying the game.

Mitchum answered with a three-point play and, after Smith and Norment traded free throws, the game went to the fourth quarter with Conway Blue up 37-34.

Smith blocked a shot by Norment to start the final period and Duckworth cashed in with a 3-pointer that knotted the game at 37. Mitchum hit a free throw and Deborah Downs drove for a layup as Conway Blue maintained an edge.

It was 42-39 with 3:34 to play then Duckworth fed Allen for a layup and, after an exchange of turnovers and a Conway miss, Allen was fouled. With 2:40 left, her free throws gave Bryant a 43-42 lead.

Mitchum answered with a 12-foot jumper. She then made a steal. Duckworth stole the ball back only to have Conway’s Breanna Ester swipe it once more. This time, Mitchum got to the line and converted a free throw to make it a 2-point game with 1:49 to go.

Allen’s basket inside off another dish from Duckworth tied the game at 45. Mitchum drove for a basket to keep Conway on top. She then traded free throws with Nichols before Allen tied it at 48.


Score by quarters

BRYANT 15 5 14 14 — 48

Conway Blue 12 15 10 15 — 52


Nichols 0-1 1-2 1, Duckworth 9-15 2-3 21, Allen 5-7 3-3 13, Whittaker 0-1 0-0 0, Smith 3-3 1-4 7, Choate 1-5 2-2 4, Buford 0-0 0-0 0, Newman 0-0 0-0 0, Greer 0-0 0-0 0, Murdock 0-0 0-0 0, Harrison 1-1 0-0 2. Totals 19-33 9-14 48.


Strickland 4-12 1-2 11, Norment 5-9 1-4 11, Mitchum 3-7 14-19 20, Downs 2-6 2-4 6, Middleton 1-2 0-1 2, Jones 0-0 0-1 0, Ester 1-3 0-0 2, Ison 0-0 0-0 0, Leach 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 16-39 18-31 52.

Three-point field goals: Bryant 1-2 (Duckworth 1-2), Conway Blue 2-7 (Strickland 2-5, Downs 0-2). Rebounds: Bryant 27 (Allen 10, Smith 6), Conway Blue 21 (Mitcheum 8). Turnovers: Bryant 27, Conway Blue 20. Team fouls: Bryant 23, Conway Blue 15. Fouled out: Bryant, Allen. 

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