The Watson Chapel Lady Wildcats were even with the Bryant Lady Hornets, 6-6, early in their game at Hornet Arena on Tuesday night. But Bryant ratcheted up the defense and put together a 15-4 run before the end of the opening period and led the rest of the way.
Behind 22 points and 12 rebounds by junior Parris Atkins, the Lady Hornets came away with a 64-47 victory as they finished 6-2 in their pre-Christmas schedule.
They return to action on Monday, Dec. 28, at home against Marion. Tip-off is scheduled for 1 p.m.
Lauren Lain added 15 points and six boards while Emileigh Muse came off the bench to score 12 to go with eight rebounds.
“I think our first half was one of our better halves of offense,” said Lady Hornets head coach Brad Matthews, whose team led 39-22 at the intermission. “I thought we shared the ball really well. For us to be good, that’s what we have to have. Our assists number has got to be high. I thought the first half, we had good offense and we made shots, which is always good.
“Overall, it’s a good win,” he asserted. “We’re 6-2. It’s a good way to go into Christmas.”
The early spurt began with the Lady Hornets forcing a turnover that Lain cashed in with a layup. At the other end, Lain blocked a shot and Atkins drove for a layup.
After a Chapel timeout, Atkins pulled down the board off a Lady Wildcat miss. Lain scored on a short jumper to make it 12-6.
DeKeira Kentle interrupted the run with a 12-foot jumper but, in answer, point guard Brilynn Findley fed Natalie Edmonson for 3. And, off another Chapel turnover, Atkins turned in an old-fashioned three-point play to make it 18-8.
DaNasia Massey connected for the Lady Wildcats but Bryant countered with a 3 from Findley, off a kickout from Lain to make it an 11-point lead.
Chapel struggled to deal with Bryant’s zone defense, out of which the Lady Hornets would trap in the half court.
“I think we play better in transition right now,” Matthews said. “We’re young. Anytime we can get out in transition — anytime, any team can get out in transition, the baskets are going to get a little bit easier. It loosens you up a little bit. It makes the game flow better for us.
“I think we’re starting to execute better in the half-court,” he allowed. “There were more possessions tonight where we executed better than there have been.”
Behind Kindle, who led her team with 19 points, Watson Chapel pulled within 21-16. But the Lady Cats were unable to get any closer. Lain scored off the offensive glass then Jordan Hancock scored in flurry, a layup, a short jumper off a feed from Findley, then a free throw.
And when Atkins pitched in a pair from the charity stripe, Bryant led 30-16.
Before the half was over, Muse knocked down a pair of triples and Atkins had a three-point play to produce the Lady Hornets’ largest lead of the half.
And that run continued to start the second half. Atkins drove for a layup and Lane had a three-point play to make it 44-22. Off a steal, Atkins drove for another easy deuce and, when Lain hit a pair of free throws after being fouled as she attacked the offensive glass, the margin was 26.
After shooting better that 63 percent from the field in the first half, the Lady Hornets kept getting good shots, but they weren’t falling enough to continue to expand the lead. Still, Watson Chapel trailed 50-31 going into the fourth quarter.
They got within 14 at 54-40. But Lain followed her own miss and scored and, off a turnover, Atkins earned a trip to the free-throw line where she was 8 of 8 in the game. Muse drained another triple and the lead was more than 20 again going into the final three minutes of the game.
“The second half, the third quarter especially, I thought we got to the rim,” Matthews said. “We just didn’t finish. And we had six or eight semi-clean looks in the lane and just missed them all. We’ve got to be tough enough to finish around the rim.
“We could’ve ballooned that lead a little bit more,” he acknowledged.
“To their credit, they fought back hard,” the coach said regarding Watson Chapel. “They ran some stuff tonight we hadn’t seen on defense. It kind of messed with us some.”
LADY HORNETS 64, LADY WILDCATS 47
Score by quarters
Watson Chapel 12 10 9 16 — 47
BRYANT 21 18 11 14 — 64
LADY WILDCATS 47
Barbee 0-4 0-0 0, Massey 1-4 0-0 2, Randle 2-5 7-8 11, D.Kentle 8-13 3-5 19, A.Atkins 3-6 0-0 7, Dendy 1-6 0-0 2, Hollins 1-6 0-0 2, Phillips 0-0 0-0 0, K.Kentle 1-1 0-0 2, Murphy 1-2 0-0 2. Totals 18-47 (38%) 10-13 (77%) 47.
LADY HORNETS 64
Lain 6-10 3-4 15, P.Atkins 7-14 8-8 22, Edmonson 1-5 0-0 3, Findley 2-4 0-0 5, Taylor 0-1 0-0 0, Muse 4-10 0-0 12, Hancock 3-10 1-2 7, Palmer 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 23-54 (43%) 12-14 (86%) 64.
Three-point field goals: Bryant 6-19 (Muse 4-9, Edmonson 1-4, Findley 1-3, Hancock 0-3), Watson Chapel 1-11 (A.Atkins 1-2, Hollins 0-4, Massey 0-3, Barbee 0-2). Turnovers: Bryant 13, Watson Chapel 15. Rebounds: Bryant 12-22 34 (P.Atkins 4-8 12, Muse 2-6 8, Lain 4-2 6, Findley 0-2 2, Taylor 0-1 1, Hancock 1-0 1, Palmer 0-1 1, team 1-2 3), Watson Chapel 7-19 26 (Randle 4-7 11, D.Kentle 1-4 5, A.Atkins 1-2 3, Dendy 1-1 2, Barbee 0-1 1, Hollins 0-1 1, Murphy 0-1 1, team 0-2 2). Team fouls: Bryant 10, Watson Chapel 14. Fouled out: Watson Chapel, Massey.