Lady Hornets end Arkadelphia’s long win streak at home
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
ARKADELPHIA — Going into Friday night’s game, the Arkadelphia Lady Badgers had suffered just one loss in nine games this season. It was near the beginning of the campaign and it came at the hands of the Bryant Lady Hornets.
So, it was with considerable interest that the Lady Badgers welcomed the Lady Hornets to their gym Friday — a gym in which the Lady Badgers had not lost in something like two years.
But the Lady Hornets had more disappointment in store for Arkadelphia. Behind a combined 45 points from Ashley Wallis and Bekka Middleton, the Lady Hornets pinned another loss on the Lady Badgers and brought that long home winning streak to a halt.
Bryant’s sixth consecutive win since returning from a disappointing performance at the annual Lovelady, Texas, Thanksgiving tournament, improved its record to 9-2 going into Christmas break. The Lady Hornets were set to host the Bryant Holiday Classic next week. They will have a bye in the first round of the tourney on Monday, then, Tuesday at 9 a.m., take on the winner of the first-round game between Happy Valley, Tenn., East and White Hall.
“We played really bad at Lovelady,” Wallis recalled after Friday’s win. “I don’t think anybody wanted to see that ever again. And everybody’s stepped up and we’ve put it all together and we’re winning now. We’ve started playing together more. Everybody knows their roles and what they’re supposed to do and expected to do and everybody’s just kind of putting it together.”
As for the latest in that roll, Wallis said, “Everybody worked really hard. We wanted to beat Arkadelphia so bad. They gave us a scare at our place. We expected it to get rough here because it was rough at our place. We just gritted our teeth and took it.”
And every time Arkadelphia made a move, Bryant had an answer to keep the lead.
The Lady Hornets only trailed briefly in the first quarter. After Bryant had opened with a 9-3 lead, the Lady Badgers rallied and when Ashlee Anthony hit an open 3-pointer with 3:02 left in the period, Arkadelphia had a 12-11 advantage.
But Bryant forward Emily Hantz fed Middleton inside for a short jumper just moments later and the Lady Hornets never trailed again. In fact, Arkadelphia didn’t score again until Anthony hit a driving jumper with 2:11 left in the second quarter — almost nine game minutes later.
In the meantime, Bryant finished out the quarter with a flurry. Middleton hit a follow shot then sophomore guard Joanie Robideaux hit a layup off a nice feed from Wallis. Near the end of the quarter, Middleton made a steal that she, eventually cashed in with a short jumper to make it 19-12 going into the second quarter.
Heather Atkins hit a baseline jumper to start the second stanza. Wallis hit a jumper off a baseline drive then Robideaux sank another layup off the break with an assist to Wallis.
Middleton stepped out to can a 15-foot jumper then worked a nice pick-and-roll with Wallis to add another bucket, completing the 18-0 run.
At halftime, the Lady Hornets held a 33-20 advantage.
Anthony, who scored 20 points for the Lady Badgers, spurred a rally early in the second half. The lead was quickly whittled to 7 then Kim Jacuzzi posted up for a basket, drew a foul and completed a three-point play for Bryant.
Again, Arkadelphia came back and when Katrina Cooks hit a driving jumper with :30 left in the third quarter, the margin was just 42-36.
But Wallis beat the buzzer with a basket to answer for Bryant, making it 44-36 going into the final eight minutes.
Two free throws by Arkadelphia’s Jovanna Johnson broke the seal on the fourth period, but then Jacuzzi hit a pair at the line, Middton converted one and Wallis hit two as the Lady Hornets began a 14-for-18 performance at the line in the final period.
Still, Arkadelphia was within 52-46 with 3:45 to play and when Lindsey Menard couldn’t get a pair of free throws to fall for the Lady Hornets, it looked like the margin might be less. But Jacuzzi corralled the rebound from the second miss and scored to keep the Lady Hornets on track.
Jacuzzi hit a jumper with 2:34 left to make it a 10-point game but Arkadelphia’s Jennifer DeMott hit a pair of free throws and, after a Bryant turnover, Anthony came through with a three-point play that had the Lady Badgers as close as they’d been at 56-51.
A Lady Hornet turnover gave them a chance to get closer too, but Anthony missed twice from long range before Middleton managed to get a held ball on the rebound with Bryant gaining possession.
With 1:32 left, Wallis converted twice at the line as Anthony fouled out. The Lady Hornets proceeded to convert eight straight free throws in those final two minutes to answer every Arkadelphia basket.