Lady Hornets pin first loss on Arkadelphia
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
When one starter is out, another is playing despite a broken nose that requires a bothersome face mask and others are battling through aches and pains, it takes a little something extra from everyone else to keep a team on course.
The Bryant Lady Hornets had their struggles with that for but, on Friday, they made the second in a succession of steps back onto that course by spoiling the unbeaten season of the Arkadelphia Lady Badgers 53-41 at the Bryant gym.
With their confidence renewed by a tough road win in their conference opener at Little Rock McClellan just days before, the Lady Hornets got the upper hand on the Lady Badgers late in the first quarter and never relinquished the lead. Everyone contributed, someone different, it seemed, every time the team needed a boost.
Initially, it was the senior star Bekka Middleton that got things rolling. Bryant trailed 7-3 midway through the first quarter then went on a 9-0 run in which Middleton scored all of the points, to take the lead for good. Her baseline drive got the run started. After an Arkadelphia miss, she posted up and hit a turnaround jumper to tie it. Candice Croy and Shannon Amos combined to force a Lady Badger turnover and Middleton cashed in with a three-point play to put the Lady Hornets ahead. Following another Arkadelphia miss, the Bryant forward stepped out and drained a 15-foot jumper to make it 12-7.
Arkadelphia snapped its dryspell with a pair of free throws from Jennifer DeMott with :15 left in the quarter, but Bryant senior Tiffany Kennedy beat the buzzer at the other end with a driving layup to give her team a 14-9 edge going into the second period.
Middleton had scored 10 in the quarter, on her way to a game-high 17 points. (She also grabbed a game-high 14 rebounds.) Kennedy’s basket was the first of her 10 points off the bench for Bryant. Croy finished with 8 and every Lady Hornet that played except starting point guard Joanie Robideaux scored. Robideaux, still recovering from her broken nose and wearing the cumbersome face mask, was able to sit out much of the contest because of the depth of quality play from her teammates.
Stephanie Evans was the only Lady Badger that scored in double figures with 13.
Arkadelphia fell to 8-1 with the loss. It was a bit of a payback for the Lady Hornets. The Lady Badgers pinned the first loss of the season on Bryant when the two teams met in Arkadelphia on Dec. 7.
On Friday, the Lady Hornets’ momentum figured to take a hit when Middleton picked up her second foul and had to come out of the game in the opening moments of the second quarter. But the Lady Hornets maintained the advantage and, eventually, expanded on it.
Bryant led 18-14 with 4:11 left in the half. After forcing an Arkadelphia turnover, senior Heather Atkins, hampered most of the season by a hand injury, came up with a scintillating pass to sophomore Bree Mann for an easy basket. Moments later, Kennedy grabbed an offensive rebound and upped the margin to 22-14.
In the third quarter, Arkadelphia trimmed the lead to 26-21 as the Lady Hornets struggled to get their offense going in the first four minutes. But sophomore Meagan Clancy drove the baseline, scored and drew a foul to get the Lady Hornets back in gear. Though she missed the free throw, junior Kim Jacuzzi grabbed the rebound and, eventually, Atkins came through with a 15-foot jumper to extend the lead to 30-21.
The teams traded misses, then Mann, a big spark off the bench, hit a driving layup that resulted in a three-point play and the first double-digit lead.
Kennedy made a steal but Mann turned the ball over only to come back with a theft of her own that set up a lay-in by Kennedy and a 35-21 bulge.
Middleton went back to work in the fourth quarter, scoring 7 points and hauling down 7 of her rebounds. Still, Arkadelphia was able to whittle the lead down to 46-38 with 2:20 to play and when Casey Danner rebounded a missed free throw, the Lady Badgers had a chance to get closer. But Danner misfired on a follow attempt and Atkins was fouled on the rebound.
Atkins converted once and, at the other end, blocked a shot by DeMott. After a Bryant miss, however, Evans’ stickback made it a 7-point game with 1:22 left.
Arkadelphia called timeout but, when play resumed, the Lady Hornets burned them with a layup by Kennedy off a sweet feed from Middleton. That pretty much sealed the win. In the final :20, Middleton and Evans traded free throws before Bryant sophomore Jamie Stephens capped things off with a three-point play with :10 to go.
Now, riding back-to-back wins, the Lady Hornets will host the annual Bryant Holiday Classic beginning Monday. Their first game will be Tuesday morning at 9 against the winner of the first-round game between Cutter-Morning Star and Morrilton.