Ridge’s 3-point play provides determined Hornets’ edge
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
A three-point play by Josh Ridge off a drive down the baseline with :04.3 left to play turned a 61-60 deficit into a 63-61 victory for the Bryant Hornets against the Jacksonville Red Devils Tuesday night.
The decisive play proved fitting. Time after time, the Hornets had had shots swatted away by Jacksonville players, most notably 6-6 sophomore center Mike Smith. But the Hornets remained undaunted. Where so many other teams might’ve backed off and stopped taking the ball at the Red Devil defense, these guys kept attacking the basket. They did not back down.
The game had been tied at 60 when Dwayne Chumley scored off a spinning drive to the hoop with 2:07 left to play. A fast and furious game that featured a whopping 53 turnovers (32 by Jacksonville) and 44 fouls between the teams, became a mad scramble after that with both teams squandering opportunities to gain the lead.
Finally, with :56 showing, Jacksonville’s Shawn Conway was fouled after he tried to score off an offensive rebound. He managed to hit one of the two free throws. But, on a night when the Red Devils converted just 12 of 30 at the line, the door remained open for Bryant.
Chumley had a shot rejected by Smith but the Red Devils turned the ball over as B.J. Wood scrambled after a loose ball for the Hornets and got a timeout as he and a couple of Jacksonville players battled for the ball on the floor.
But the Hornets committed a turnover when play resumed and Jacksonville’s Nick Smith was fouled. Though Nick Smith finished with a game-high 21 points, he was just 6-of-14 at the line and he missed both shots with :21 left.
The rebound off the second shot, however, was tied up by the Devils and they retained possession. The Hornets had to foul Mike Smith. But the big sophomore, whose style of play resembled a scaled-down Shaquille O’Neal, made like O’Neal at the line and missed twice. (He was 2-of-9 from the stripe in the game.)
The Hornets, in turn, got the ball inside to Bennie Elder who, despite having a couple of shots rejected earlier, kept attacking the rack despite giving up five inches and some “hops” to Mike Smith. Elder had effectively used his body and the fact that he was left-handed to ward off the Jacksonville shot-blocker.
But, this time, Smith swatted the shot away only to have Scott Yant retrieve it and dish to Ridge, who found a seam on the baseline and went up into Smith’s chest at the end of his drive. The big man was unable to get enough separation to get at Ridge’s shot, which fell. Smith was charged with the foul and Ridge converted.
The win wasn’t cinched, however, until Nick Smith, who was fouled with :01.2 left, missed both of his free-throw attempts.
The Hornets were led by Jaston Carter’s 18 points (before he fouled out). Ridge finished with 15 and Elder had 12.
But they looked over-matched early, falling behind 7-1 then as much as 13-3 in the early going. The Devils led 21-13 going into the second quarter.
A 3-pointer by Brandon Nelson increased the Jacksonville advantage to 24-13, the largest difference in the game. With Carter and Chumley each hitting a free throw amidst a bevy of turnovers and missed shots, the lead was back down to 9. Finally, Carter made a steal that he cashed in with a 3-pointer to make it 24-18.
With Jacksonville missing free throws, the Hornets were able to stay close. It was 32-26 going into the final 1:30 of the half. Conway blocked a shot by Wood, but Ridge came up with the carom and was fouled. He converted twice with 1:08 left. Carter and Wood then combined on a steal that resulted in a driving jumper in the lane by Carter that made it a 2-point game.
Wood then forced another turnover and, with :03.9 showing, Carter was fouled. He converted twice to draw the Hornets even at 32 going into the fourth quarter.
Before long, however, Jacksonville had re-established a 6-point edge, 42-36. Carter hit a pair of free throws then the Red Devils turnover the ball over on two consecutive trips. Carter missed a 3 after the first miscue but, after the second, Ridge ripped a trey to get his team back within a point with 4:29 left.
Baetric Miles scored for Jacksonville with 4:08 to go but that was the last the Devils would score until Nelson hit a jumper with 1:18 remaining in the quarter.
Bryant surged into the lead. Jeremy Reeves fed Chumley for a layup. Moments later, Chumley drove the baseline for a reverse layup that put the Hornets ahead 45-44.
After a Jacksonville turnover, Reeves hit a short jumper. Another turnover and Ridge took a fed off a nice touch pass from Reeves and scored inside. He then combined with Chumley on a steal that resulted in a basket by Ridge, a 51-44 lead and a Jacksonville timeout.
Baskets by Nelson and DaShawn Garry cut the margin to 51-48 by the end of the quarter, however.
Jacksonville eventually regained the lead with 5:45 left when Mike Smith made a steal and a layup to make it 53-51. Reeves gunned in a 3 then Mike Smith hit a free throw to tie the game at 54.
Later, it was tied at 58 then 60 before the last-minute scenario unfolded.
It was the Hornets fourth win in a row, improving them to 7-3 on the season. They were set to return to action after Christmas with three games at the Fouke Invitational. On Thursday, Dec. 27, they are scheduled to take on New Albany, Miss., at 12:54 p.m. On Friday at 4:18 p.m., the Hornets face Hope and, on Saturday at 3:35 p.m., they will be pitted against Hamburg.