Lady Hornets turn the tables on NLR
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
In their previous meeting at Alltel Arena on Jan. 17, the North Little Rock Lady Charging Wildcats shot 22 free throws in the fourth quarter alone, while Bryant shot two. North Little Rock road that advantage to a 52-45 win that left a bad taste for Bryant.
In the re-match, however, it was North Little Rock that left looking for a mint when the Lady Hornets shot 19 free throw in the fourth quarter and North Little Rock none in Bryant’s 57-52 win.
Of course, the quality of officiating is usually in the eye of the beholder and Bryant folks would’ve probably agreed with North Little Rock fans that the game was called well for the first three quarters. In the end, though, the Lady Hornets were rewarded for being aggressive offensively and the Lady Wildcats lost a little of their aggressiveness down the stretch after senior forward Chloe Williams fouled out.
It was almost a must-win situation for the Lady Hornets who improved to 19-5 overall and 7-4 in AAAAA-Central Conference play. With co-leaders Little Rock Parkview (on the road) and Conway (at home) looming in their next two games, the Lady Hornets needed the win to avoid falling into a fourth-place tie with Little Rock Central. Instead, they stayed a game ahead of Central and pulled even with North Little Rock in third place going into the final three games of the regular season.
Four teams will make it to State. Bryant would not only like to qualify but somehow hang onto the third spot where it would face the No. 2 team from the AAAAA-East (Jonesboro or West Memphis) in the first round of State instead of, as No. 4 from the Central, having to challenge top-ranked Fort Smith Northside, champions of the West, in the first round.
The Lady Hornets trailed North Little Rock 46-44 going into the fourth quarter. Sophia Piggie hit a shot from the corner to make it 48-44 but, moments later, Williams fouled out, sending Ashley Grappe to the free-throw line for Bryant.
Grappe, on her way to a team-high 18 points converted both free throws but baskets by Sha Scott and Shonta Dobbins had North Little Rock’s lead back up to 52-46 with 5:48 left to play.
But that was the end of the Lady Wildcats’ scoring. Ashley Grappe hit two more free throws and, moments later, Amanda Grappe earned a trip to the line at the 5:06 mark. Though she missed both shots — Amanda struggled to a 5 of 11 performance at the line on the night — the carom off the second shot went out of bounds off a North Little Rock player. After the inbound play, Amanda Grappe drew the defense on the left side of the key and dumped a pass inside to Robin Speake who hit a short jumper to cut the lead to 52-50.
Scott and Gabby Coleman misfired at the other end and Bryant’s Amie Hubbard, who gathered a game-high 9 rebounds, was fouled at the 4:25 mark. Hubbard’s free throws tied the game.
Piggie missed a 3-point try for the Lady Cats and, following her own miss, Amanda Grappe was fouled. She converted one of her free throws to give Bryant its first lead since midway through the first quarter.
North Little Rock’s Courtney Young couldn’t get a shot to fall and again Amanda Grappe was fouled, going to the hoop. She converted once to make it 54-52.
And after Piggie missed on another 3-point try, the Lady Hornets spread the floor on offense and began to milk the clock. North Little Rock chased until, with :50.9 to go, Allison Grappe was fouled. She converted once to make it a 3-point game.
At the other end, North Little Rock missed three shots, a couple of them from point blank range, before Speake rebounded and was fouled with :26.8 showing. Though she missed her first toss, she made the second to make it a two-possession game.
But North Little Rock continued to struggle offensively. Two shots failed and Bryant gained possession. With :08 left, Allison Grappe hit another free throw to seal the win.
In all, the Lady Hornets were 11 of 19 from the line in the fourth quarter, 19 of 29 in the game.
Bryant had led 2-0, 4-2 and 9-8 in the first quarter. Behind Scott, who scored 20 points, the Lady Wildcats built an 18-10 lead before the quarter was through. A 12-foot jumper by Bridgette McPeak in the closing seconds of the period, had Bryant within 6.
And when Amanda Grappe hit a layup to start the second-quarter scoring, it was 18-14. She followed up with a steal but a turnover cost the Lady Hornets and North Little Rock, sparked by a pair of 3-pointers by Alyssa Walden built its largest lead, 28-18.
But McPeak, who came off the bench to score 11 points, hit a baseline jumper to get the Lady Hornets back in gear. Ashley Grappe canned a 3-pointer and Speake hit the offensive glass for a bucket to whittle the lead to 28-25. A basket by Scott was answered with a three-point play by McPeak that cut it to 2 but North Little Rock held on for a 32-28 lead at the half.
In the third quarter, Amanda Grappe scored off a lob from Ashley who, in turn, drove the baseline for a layup to tie it 32-32.
The game was tied at 34, 36 and 38 and 44 during the period. The last deadlock came after Williams had scored to give North Little Rock a 44-40 lead. Ashley Grappe made a splendid pinpoint pass to McPeak for a layup then Speake intercepted a pass into the post and, at the other end, Kalin Dreher, working her way back into more playing time after suffering through the flu, hit a jumper in the lane as Williams picked up her fourth foul.
Dreher missed the free throw that would’ve completed the three-point play but she followed up with a steal only to have the Lady Hornets turn the ball over. Young’s jumper in the final minute gave North Little Rock the lead going into the fourth quarter.