Win at Texarkana sets up showdown
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
TEXARKANA — The Bryant Lady Hornets kept their focus and kept their date.
With a chance to grab a share of first place in the AAAAA-South Conference looming on Tuesday at home against the Pine Bluff Fillies, it would’ve been easy for the Lady Hornets to look past the Texarkana Lady Razorbacks on Friday. After all, the Lady Hornets had little trouble with the Lady Backs in their earlier meeting this season, dismissing them 65-48. And Pine Bluff was responsible for the only loss by Bryant in 11 conference games and last 12 overall.
But, in order to make that meeting with Pine Bluff on Tuesday retain its meaning in the league standings, the Lady Hornets had to take care of business against Texarkana and that they did, 61-45.
A flurry at the end of the first half gave the Lady Hornets the upper hand in the game, then another at the end of the third quarter put them in control.
Texarkana, which fell to 14-9 overall and 5-6 in conference play (tied with Sheridan for fourth, the final playoff spot), led for most of the first quarter. When Ashley Plant his a 3 with 4:53 left in the period, the Lady Backs were up 12-7.
It stayed that way until, with 2:54 left in the period, Bryant’s Ashley Wallis put together a three-point play on a drive to the hoop to cut the margin to 2.
Wallis, who wound up leading all scorers with 21 points, would come through with another three-point play late in the game that would give the Lady Hornets their largest lead at 19.
Bryant, however, trailed 14-12 going into the second period. But Joanie Robideaux, who fired in 16 points in the game, hit a jumper from the corner to tie the game as the second got started.
Later, Robideaux snapped the tie by following her own miss for a basket. The 16-14 edge was Bryant’s first lead of the game.
A free throw by Robideaux extended the margin to 3 but, on consecutive baskets by Shun Collins, Texarkana regained the advantage 18-17 with 5:02 left in the half.
But that was the last the Lady Razorbacks would score in the quarter.
Bekka Middleton, who contributed 14 points to the Lady Hornets’ total, converted a pair of free throws with 4:17 to go until halftime and Bryant had the lead for good.
Texarkana had four chances to answer but came up empty each time. Ultimately, Wallis made a steal and fed Middleton for a layup to extend Bryant’s lead.
Middleton then came through with a theft and layup.
Later, Wallis teamed with Kim Jacuzzi to forced a Texarkana turnover that produced a trip to the free-throw line for Wallis. Two conversions made it 25-18 in the final minute of the half.
Texarkana missed three times before Wallis grabbed a defensive rebound and was fouled with :04 showing. This time, she hit one of her shots to make it an 8-point Bryant lead at the break.
Two more free throws by Wallis and an offensive-rebound basket by Emily Hantz extended the run to 13 early in the third quarter. Finally, Texarkana ended its long dryspell with a three-point play by Michelle Hayes.
Hayes wound up scoring 10 of her team’s 11 points in the quarter. Her last basket of the period, with 1:51 left, narrowed the gap to 34-28. She had a chance to cut it closer after a pair of Bryant misses, but couldn’t find the range and, at the other end, Jacuzzi drilled a jumper from just inside the free-throw line to begin a Bryant surge at the end of the period.
Texarkana’s 6-2 center Latasha Harris (8 points) missed at the other end and Wallis drove for a layup and a 10-point advantage.
Jacuzzi blocked a shot but Harris rebounded and was fouled with :09 left in the quarter. She hit one free throw but back came the hard-charging Wallis for a buzzer-beating basket that gave Bryant a 40-29 edge.
Harris hit a free throw to start the fourth quarter but layups by Robideaux, Wallis and Hantz pushed the margin to 16.
The Lady Hornets led 50-32 midway through the period when Rodneisha Pree and Krashanti Wyatt buried back-to-back 3-pointers for Texarkana.
Unfazed, the Lady Hornets went inside to the ever-reliable Middleton for a bucket then Wallis slashed for another layup and, working the high post-low post game, Middleton fed Jacuzzi for a short jumper that re-established the 18-point gulf.
Harris’ basket with 1:53 left was trumped by Wallis’ three-point play that produced a 59-40 lead.
The win was Bryant’s 21st of the season in 25 games. At 10-1 in league play, they trailed only Pine Bluff.
For the time being.