Lady Hornets burn Hot Springs, claim title
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
NORTH LITTLE ROCK — Patiently, patiently, the Hot Springs Lady Trojans were forcing the Bryant Lady Hornets to play long stretches of defense, eventually working for open shots after passing up a few along the way.
And it was working. The Lady Trojans, who didn’t attempt their first field goal until the game was three minutes old, used that patience and the inside strength of muscular 5-9 junior Kristian Mohammed, 6-1 senior Allison Morgan and 6-1 junior Cequitta Graham to actually forge a 17-16 lead at the end of the first half.
The slowdown and the energy they used up on defense also affected the Lady Hornets’ offense. Of course, that big front line packed into a zone squelched Bryant’s inside game as well. Forced outside, the Lady Hornets kept it close with a pair of 3-pointers by Haley Stobaugh and another by Rachel Blakley.
The game was tied at 19 and 21 in the third quarter when the Lady Hornets got a lift off the bench from Allison Grappe. Her 18-foot jumper snapped the 19-19 tie and her free throws broke the 21-21 deadlock. Jennifer Slack then made a steal that led to a layup by Kalin Dreher as the Lady Hornets began to intensify their defense and stretch it into a press.
Dreher added a pair of free throws with :55 left in the quarter to make it 27-21, Bryant’s largest lead of the game to that point.
It also helped that Hot Springs’ inside trio began to get into foul trouble. Dreher’s trip to the line came at the expense of Morgan’s fourth. All three eventually fouled out.
Bryant led 27-24 going into the fourth quarter. Mohammed, who led all scorers with 10 points, fouled out when she got Slack following a steal by Allison Grappe. Morgan pulled Hot Springs back within 28-26 with a successful trip to the line but when Amanda Grappe drove the baseline for a hoop, the Lady Hornets began to pull away. They forced a turnover and Megan Kennedy converted twice at the line. Another turnover and Dreher cashed in with a 15-foot jumper, making it 34-26.
Moments later, Graham drew her fifth foul sending Amanda Grappe to the line. Her free throws made it a 10-point game with 5:24 left. Kennedy followed up with a steal and a layup.
“They made us play defense,” said Bryant assistant coach Mark Scarlett of Hot Springs’ early tactic. “And we’re not doing a good job on offense right now. We’re trying to figure it out but thank goodness we had people like Haley Stobaugh again, who showed up and played real well. Meagan Kennedy came off the bench and did a great job, Kalin Dreher, Allison Grappe. If it wasn’t for them, we don’t win. We had to pick it up on defense and that’s what our bench gives us.”
The Lady Hornets’ bench produced 22 points in the game.
“We knew they were in foul trouble and we knew that we could not let them play halfcourt basketball on us,” Scarlett mentioned. “That’s the only way they were staying in the game with us. We weren’t pressuring them enough. We weren’t getting them to where they were having trouble passing the ball. It was too easy for them to get their offense going. So we had to do something like (going to the press) and (head coach) Carla (Crowder) did a good job of switching everything up.”
Hot Springs couldn’t manage a field goal at all in the final quarter. Bryant’s largest lead was the final margin of 16.