Photos by Kevin Nagle
You could see the Bryant Lady Hornets freshman team improving as the game went along on Monday night when they opened the annual Bryant Invitational Tournament. But early struggles and a quick, aggressive Hot Springs Lady Trojans team put the Lady Hornets in a hole they could never climb out of.
Hot Springs surged to a 15-2 lead by the end of the first quarter on the way to a 40-26 win. That means, over the last three quarters, Bryant played within a point of the Lady Trojans.
And that was despite the fact that Hot Springs’ on-and-off press forced 30 turnovers. Bryant forced 20 against Lady Trojans, 17 of them after the first quarter. The Lady Hornets finished with a rebounding advantage, 32-24.
“I thought we played a little too fast,” said Lady Hornets coach Nathan Castaldi. “We played at the pace that Hot Springs wanted us to play instead of making them play at our pace. When we slowed down a little, I thought we played much better.”
Slowing it down enabled the Lady Hornets to work the ball for open shots and get post player Raven Loveless more looks. Guard Paige Adams wound up leading the Lady Hornets with 11 points. Loveless, who was held scoreless in the first quarter, finished with 7 to go with a game-high 10 rebounds. Danielle Singleton scored 4 points with Kelly Williams and Jalen Sparks adding 2 each.
Struggles at the free-throw line also hampered Bryant. The Lady Hornets were 5 of 10 with two of the misses on front ends of bonus opportunities.
The game was tied at 2 before Hot Springs began its run. After Adams’ basket at 4:48 of the first quarter, Bryant didn’t score again until Loveless hit two free throws at the 4:09 mark of the second period.
After Hot Springs scored again, Adams drained a 3-point shot to cut the lead to 17-7 with 3:35 left in the half.
But the Lady Trojans scored twice after that to take a 21-7 lead and the Lady Hornets were never that close again.
Early in the third, a baseline jumper by Williams and an offensive-rebound basket by Singleton had Bryant within 23-11. Hot Springs scored and Loveless hit a free throw before the Lady Trojans pushed the lead out to 33-16 going into the fourth quarter.
Bryant cut the margin to 13 twice in the fourth quarter as Adams scored 6 of her points.
The Lady Hornets are set to play against this evening at 5:35 p.m., at the Bryant Middle School gym against Conway White.