Bryant reaches final by frustrating Lady Trojans again
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
HOT SPRINGS — The Hot Springs Lady Trojans have seen enough of the Bryant Lady Hornets.
For the third time this season, the Lady Hornets spoiled the Lady Trojans’ hopes of a tournament title when they put together a fourth quarter surge that produced a 41-38 victory in the second round of the Levi Classic on Friday, Dec. 27.
At the Central Arkansas Christian/OrthoArkansas Invitational, the two teams met in the championship game and Bryant rolled to a 47-31 victory. Three days later, the battled again in the opening round of the WalMart Supercenter Shootout in Benton and the Lady Hornets prevailed 46-28.
This time, however, it was on the Lady Trojans’ own floor and things didn’t come as easily for the Lady Hornets. In fact, when Hot Springs guard Robyn Greenwood drove for a layup for the first basket of the fourth quarter, it put her team ahead 28-27.
But that’s when the Lady Hornets, who improved to 11-1 on the season with the victory, put together the decisive spurt. Amanda Grappe posted up for a bucket then Ashley Grappe made a steal that led to a layup by Jennifer Slack and a Hot Springs timeout.
Bryant’s defense continued to be the difference-maker. Once play resumed. Slack rejected a shot by Brooklyn Burkes. Bryant turned the ball over at the other end but the Lady Hornets forced a turnover as well.
Slack and Amanda Grappe were unable to cash in but the Lady Hornets weren’t without the ball long as they forced a 10-second backcourt violation, another Hot Springs turnover. This time, Amanda Grappe scored inside.
At the other end, Ashley Grappe stepped in to take a charge as Burkes drove the lane. The Lady Hornets, who suffered 19 turnovers themselves, gave the ball back only to have Hot Springs return the favor.
In all, the Lady Trojans committed a whopping 35 turnovers. But they kept close as Bryant converted just 17 of 46 shots from the field. Hot Springs also held a slight rebounding edge 29-24 in the game.
Amanda Grappe was fouled with 4:25 left to play. She converted twice to make it 35-28.
Burkes interrupted the run with a free throw but Slack fed Amanda Grappe for a bucket inside in response. Four free throws by Kristian Mohammad in the Lady Trojans’ next two possessions allowed them to trim the margin to 4.
But the Lady Hornets sliced through the Hot Springs press and Amanda Grappe fed Kalin Dreher for a layup and, after a Lady Trojans’ turnover, Slack drove for a layup and a 41-33 lead with 1:53 left.
The Lady Hornets spread the floor after that but missed three free throws in the final :30. A 3-pointer by Burkes squeezed the lead to 5 with :17 to go. After that, however, it took Hot Springs until the waning seconds to score again. Mohammad’s scoop shot with :02 left was little more than window dressing.
Ashley Grappe had keyed Bryant’s early surge to the lead, scoring 9 points in the first quarter, 8 during a 12-2 opening salvo that Hot Springs just didn’t seem to have an answer for.
Still, the Lady Trojans rallied and trailed just 13-11 going into the second quarter, thanks in large part to a 3-pointer from halfcourt at the buzzer by Burkes.
And when Raele Jackson hit a baseline jumper to start the second quarter, the teams were even. Hot Springs, however, managed just one more field goal the rest of the half. Bryant fared little better but edged ahead 19-15.
Slack scored the first basket of the second half but then the Lady Hornets went almost four minutes without another field goal. Led by Mohammad, Hot Springs rallied for a 22-21 lead with 5:45 left.
Ashley Grappe hit a game-tying free throw then the two teams struggled mightily to score until Slack and Dreher combined on a steal that led to a layup for Amanda Grappe with 3:22 remaining in the quarter.
Mohammad tied it with 1:56 left but Dreher posted up for a bucket and Jeanne Randall hit a free throw enabling the Lady Hornets to maintain a 1-point edge going into the fourth quarter after a late bucket by Cequitta Graham for Hot Springs.