By Rob Patrick
CONWAY — The first time through the schedule against their conference opponents — which unfortunately, since they went 6-1, didn’t count in the standings — the Bryant Lady Hornets freshman team’s lone[more] loss was to a relentless Conway White Lady Kittens team. The stunning part was that it was 39-13 loss in the midst of a seven-game stretch in which the Lady Hornets won six games.
In the rematch on Monday at Buzz Bolding Arena, the Lady Hornets played the Lady Kittens much tougher. In fact, Bryant led in the second half and, after a Conway surge, pulled within 8 as late as the 4:19 mark of the fourth quarter before the Kittens pulled away for a 41-26 win.
Both teams pressed throughout the game. Bryant forced 20 turnovers but Conway unofficially pushed the Lady Hornets into 34. And, in part, because the Lady Kittens were attacking the basket more aggressively (and perhaps getting by with a few more things defensively), they shot 26 free throws to Bryant’s nine. (It helped the Lady Hornets that the Lady Kittens converted just seven times.)
The resulting foul trouble proved costly to the Lady Hornets whose best ball-handler under pressure, Dezerea Duckworth, was forced to the bench with foul trouble in the second half and, eventually, fouled out. She finished with 9 points, three rebounds, four steals and three assists.
Aubree Allen led Bryant with 12 points to go with a game-high 10 rebounds, Erica Smith had 3 points and seven boards as the Lady Hornets out-rebounded the Lady Kittens 33-23. Andrea Buford had a basket.Conway was paced by Kianna Speight’s 11. Jordan Danberry added 10 and Asia Willard, had 8. Both the latter two are reportedly eighth graders.
“They’re so athletic, you have to play almost a perfect game to beat them,” stated Lady Hornets coach Nathan Castaldi. “We played very well in stretches then we’d make three or four turnovers against that pressure that just really hurt us.”
On a pair of baskets by Allen and another by Smith, the Lady Hornets held a 6-4 lead midway through the first quarter. But Danberry tied it and Kaylyn Boyd hit a 3 to put Conway White ahead. When Duckworth fed Allen for a basket in the closing seconds of the quarter, the Conway lead was 9-8.
The Lady Kittens managed their largest lead of the first half at 12-8 on three quick points by Danberry early in the second period but Duckworth drove for a basket and was fouled with 3:32 left in the half. Though she missed the free throw, Allen got to the carom and scored to tie the game at 12. It was tied at 14 before Danberry hit a free throw with 1:04 left. Conway had three other chances at the line in the final minute but went 0 for 6.
So when Duckworth opened the second-half scoring with a 3, Bryant had the lead. Unfortunately, she committed her fourth foul moments later and had to come out. Nonetheless, Smith added a free throw and Bryant had its largest lead of the game at 18-15.
Jada Benton got Conway White’s first points of the second half then Speight got hot from outside. She hit a 3 to put her team up 20-18 and, after Allen swished a 12-footer, canned another to make it 23-20.
After a flurry of turnovers, Willard buried a 3 and before long the Lady Kittens had built a 30-20 lead going into the fourth quarter.
Allen hit two free throws to trim it to 8 and, after Megan Goodnight scored for Conway, Rori Whittaker dished to Buford for a bucket to make it 32-24 with 4:19 left to play.
But Speight hit a 3 to spark a 9-2 run to end the game as the Lady Kittens pulled away.
The Lady Hornets, now 10-9 overall and 1-2 in conference play, host Cabot South this Thursday.
LADY KITTENS 41, LADY HORNETS 26
Score by quarters
BRYANT 8 8 6 6 — 26
Conway White 9 6 15 11 — 41
LADY HORNETS 26
Nichols 0-5 0-0 0, Allen 4-6 4-4 12, Whittaker 0-2 0-0 0, Duckworth 3-6 2-3 9, Smith 1-3 1-2 3, Murdock 0-1 0-0 0, Buford 1-1 0-0 2, Mosby 0-0 0-0 0, Newman 0-0 0-0 0, Harrison 0-1 0-0 0, Greer 0-0 0-0 0, Caton 0-0 0-0 0, Alliston 0-0 0-0 0, Choate 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 9-25 7-9 26.
LADY KITTENS 41
Danberry 3-12 4-10 10, Willard 3-10 0-2 8, Speight 4-10 0-2 11, Benton 1-2 0-2 2, Boyd 1-2 2-8 5, Kelley 1-6 0-0 2, Goodnight 1-1 0-0 2, Rogers 0-2 1-2 1. Totals 14-45 7-26 41.
Three-point field goals: Bryant 1-2 (Duckworth 1-2), Conway White 6-14 (Speight 3-7, Willard 2-5, Boyd 1-1, Danberry 0-1). Rebounds: Bryant 33 (Allen 10, Smith 7), Conway White 23 (Danberry 7). Turnovers: Bryant 34, Conway White 20. Team fouls: Bryant 16, Conway White 12. Fouled out: Bryant, Duckworth.