Elhagemoussa sparks Lady Hornets past Belles
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 continue posting 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
Everyone was happy for Yousra Elhagemoussa.
Elhagemoussa’s senior season got off on the wrong foot (figuratively and literally) when she tore up her knee during a pickup game last May. She missed the first part of the season but worked her way back onto the court before Christmas beating the forecast for her return.
Still, she’d had a difficult time getting back into the groove. She played in spots, filling a roll off the bench with defense and rebounding. She’d contributed to her team’s run to another bid to the Class AAAAA State Tournament but it had hardly been what she no doubt had hoped for, individually.
That’s why everyone was so happy for her when, in the team’s final home game of the season, Elhagemoussa came through with 14 points in the second half to help the Bryant Lady Hornets vault past the Mount St. Mary’s Belles into the third spot in the conference with a 52-38 victory.
Bryant, which improved to 16-11 overall and 9-5 in league play, was set to open play at State on Wednesday, March 3, at 4 p.m., against Jonesboro, the No. 2 seed in the AAAAA-East. Mount St. Mary’s dropped to fourth in the AAAAA-Central, 15-10 overall and 9-5 versus the league. The Belles were scheduled to open tourney play against AAAAA-South champion El Dorado.
The Lady Hornets, who had led Mount St. Mary’s from the outset, had seen a lead of as much as 12 whittled down to 2, 27-25. The Belles had a chance to tie or go ahead but Bryant forced a turnover and, when Elhagemoussa fed Amanda Grappe for an open look from eight feet and a basket that made it 29-25, it started a 13-2 run that put Bryant back in the driver’s seat.
Moments after her assist, Elhagemoussa hit the offensive glass for her first basket of the game with 2:43 left in the third quarter.
At the other end, Bryant’s Allison Grappe blocked a shot by Mount St. Mary’s Stephanie McConnell and grabbed the deflection. That splendid play led to a trip to the free-throw line for Amanda Grappe who made it 33-25.
McConnell interrupted the run with a jumper from the wing but two free throws by Elhagemoussa countered that.
To cap the quarter, Elhagemoussa took a quick feed from Amanda Grappe and scored with :35 left to bump the lead to 10 going into the final eight minutes.
The fourth-quarter scoring began with junior Amie Hubbard’s third 3-pointer of the game and 40-27 advantage.
The lead was never less than double digits after that. It was 46-35 with 2:42 left when, after a timeout, Bryant began to spread the floor and work the clock. With 2:26 left, Elhagemoussa got free inside and scored. She then made a steal that led to a trip to the free throw line (off another assist from Amanda Grappe. Her two free throws matched the largest lead of the game, 50-35.
The charged-up Lady Hornets had opened the game intent on avenging their loss at Mount St. Mary’s back in January. They ran out to a 19-4 lead in the first quarter.
It was 7-4 before Amanda Grappe hit a pair of free throws. After a Belles turnover, Allison Grappe buried a 3-pointer. Amanda Grappe’s steal led to a layup by Hubbard off a splendid feed from Ashley Grappe to make it 14-4.
Mount St. Mary’s Britton Blough, who nailed four 3’s in her team’s win over Bryant, misfired from long range and Bryant took advantage with Hubbard dishing to Bridgette McPeak for a basket. Moments later, Hubbard buried her second 3 of the period to make it 19-4.
The lead was 19-9 going into the second quarter.
Bryant’s lead was 24-13 when Ashley Grappe drained a 3 with 5:11 left in the half, but Mount St. Mary’s began to whittle on the margin at that point. By halftime, the lead was down to 6, 24-18. And when Blough hit a 3 to start the second half, it was 3.
A free throw by Allison Grappe and a baseline jumper by McPeak kept Bryant ahead but Krystal Tyree, who led the Belles with 16 points, hit a basket and a pair of free throws to cut the lead to 2 and set up the Lady Hornets’ resurgence.