NORTH LITTLE ROCK — The Bryant Hornets did a great job of being aggressive offensively and getting to the free-throw line on Friday when they took on the Maumelle Hornets on the second day of the annual OrthoArkansas/Central Arkansas Christian Invitational Tournament. But getting to the line and making shots have not been going together well for Bryant over its first three games this season.
However, with sophomore Romen Martin setting the tone by making his first six free throws and 11 of 14 in the game, Bryant cashed in on 21 of 28 at the stripe on the way to a hotly-contested 56-51 win, their first of the young season.
They’ll go after number two on Saturday at 3:30 p.m., against Central Conference rival Little Rock Catholic.
Bryant led Maumelle by as much as 14 in the second half and held a 56-44 advantage with 1:16 left in the contest. Maumelle closed with a furious run to trim the margin to 5 at the end.
Defense proved to be a huge factor for Bryant, which led 25-16 at the half against Maumelle’s high-octane team, coached by Bryant alum Michael Shook. And though Bryant’s blue Hornets suffered 21 turnovers, they forced 19 by Maumelle’s red Hornets.
“For the most part, I thought we handled the pressure pretty good,” stated Bryant coach Mike Abrahamson. “I know we turned it over some but we also beat that pressure for layups. Not just beating it and getting a shot off but beating it for layups and scoring.
“To hold them to 16 points in the half, I thought was a great defensive effort,” he added. “We really wanted to make them play a half-court game and not get up and down.
“It’s good to get a win,” the coach asserted. “The kids deserve a win. We still are going to learn a lot of lessons from this win, about poise and composure, keeping their head. It was another good experience for a young, inexperienced team.”
Martin led all scorers with 16 points. Kevin Hunt finished with 14 and Lowell Washington had 10. Wesley Peters chipped in 8 and Marvin Moody 7.
Maumelle was paced by Tremont Robinson’s 13 points. Edmond Robinson added 11 and Barry Nixon 9. But the red Hornets only had 25 points after three quarters. They more than doubled that in the fourth quarter alone but Bryant kept making plays (and free throws) to keep them at bay.
“I kept telling our guys the whole time, I said, ‘All they can do is keep coming at you, come at you hard, come at you hard,’” Abrahamson related. “’You’ve got to handle it. It’s coming. They’re going to turn it up, turn it up.’ And they did. And we handled it enough to win by 5. I was real proud of them.”
Asked what he was telling his team during the timeouts down the stretch, the coach related, “I told them, we’re not going to panic. We’re not going to melt down, that we’re going to handle it. We’re going to break the pressure. Our concepts of play are going to win the game more than anything we draw up on the board; the concepts that we’ve established, how we’re going to help each other out.”
Bryant gained the upper hand initially with an 11-2 first-quarter surge after falling behind 5-0 in the opening moments. Martin’s 3 — Bryant’s only triple — started the push. Washington scored off a teammate’s miss and, after two free throws by Tremont Robinson, Martin followed his own miss with a bucket. Moody scored down low and, at the other end, drew a charge. Hunt’s driving jumper made it 11-7.
Though Edmond Robinson scored in the final seconds of the period, Peters, Moody and Martin added free throws in the early stages of the second quarter as the blue Hornets kept attacking the Maumelle defense and the offensive glass.
The teams started trading baskets until the red Hornets were within 19-16 with 2:54 left in the half. They were unable to score the rest of the period.
A bucket inside by Washington and four free throws by Martin bumped the margin to 25-16.
And when Martin added a free throw early in the third quarter, Bryant had its first double-digit lead, 26-16.
Maumelle could get no closer than 8 down in the third quarter. Bryant held a 34-25 edge going into the final 1:30 of the period and extended it to 14 by the end of the period, the largest differential. Martin hit a free throw then fed Moody for a bucket. Moody scored again off a feed from Peters and it was 39-25 going into the final eight minutes.
Minix scored the first two baskets of the second half off of drive-and-dish moves by Edmond Robinson. Abrahamson called a timeout and the blue Hornets made the adjustment to cut off that play.
With Hunt driving for a layup, Bryant maintained the double-digit lead, trading baskets for a while with Peters and Washington scoring to counter Maumelle. With 4:08 to go, Tremont Robinson drove for a basket that trimmed the margin to 47-38. Maumelle forced a held ball and regained possession so Abrahamson called a timeout to try to deflate any momentum the red Hornets might be building.
Tremont Robinson missed a shot and, at the other end, Martin went to the line and converted twice.
With 2:51 left, Edmond Robinson cut it to 50-42, as close as Maumelle had been since early in the half. But Washington scored inside off a nice feed by Calvin Allen in the open court, burning the aggressive Maumelle press.
Edmond Robinson answered but Martin hit two free throws and Hunt took advantage of a Maumelle turnover and, with 1:16 left, the lead was back to 12, 56-44.
Nixon hit a 3 with :28.9 left to get the lead under 10 again. Minix drove for a layup off a Bryant turnover with :07.8 showing to set the final score. Peters wisely held the ball and didn’t inbound it after the basket and time ran out.
BRYANT 56, MAUMELLE 51
Score by quarters
Maumelle 9 7 9 26 — 51
BRYANT 11 14 14 17 — 56
Minix 3-11 2-4 8, Tate 1-7 0-0 2, E.Robinson 5-9 1-1 11, Singleton 2-7 0-0 4, Hall 0-1 0-0 0, T.Robinson 3-7 7-12 13, Nixon 4-5 0-0 9, Johnson 0-6 2-4 2, Lott 1-2 0-0 2. Totals 19-55 (35%) 12-21 (57%) 51.
Allen 0-6 1-2 1, Lewis 0-1 0-0 0, Hunt 5-11 4-4 14, Martin 2-8 11-14 16, Washington 5-5 0-0 10, Peters 2-3 4-6 8, Moody 3-5 1-2 7, Wilson 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 17-39 (44%) 21-28 (75%) 56.
Three-point field goals: Bryant 1-9 (Martin 1-5, Hunt 0-3, Moody 0-1), Maumelle 1-10 (Nixon 1-2, Minix 0-4, T.Robinson 0-2, Tate 0-1, E.Robinson 0-1). Turnovers: Bryant 21, Maumelle 19. Rebounds: Bryant 9-22 31 (Hunt 0-7 7, Martin 3-3 6, Peters 1-4 5, Moody 1-3 4, Washington 3-0 3, Lewis 0-2 2, Allen 1-1 2, Wilson 0-1 1, team 0-1 1), Maumelle 17-16 33 (Singleton 6-2 8, E.Robinson 3-3 6, Tate 1-2, 3, Minix 2-1 3, Hall 1-2 3, Johnson 0-3 3, T.Robinson 1-1 2, Lott 2-0 2, Nixon 0-1 1, team 1-1 2). Team fouls: Bryant 15, Maumelle 16.