Bryant defense frustrates Central
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
Defense did it for the Bryant Lady Hornets in their AAAAA-Central Conference game against the Little Rock Central Lady Tigers on Tuesday, Feb. 3.
With 7:48 left in the game, Central’s Sharnelle Allen hit a free throw that tied the game at 32. Stubbornly, the Lady Tigers, desperately trying to stay in contention for a State Tournament bid, had stayed close to the Lady Hornets, a team they had stunned in their previous meeting at Central.
Bryant playing without junior guard Amie Hubbard, who had just led the team with 17 points against Mount St. Mary’s on the previous Friday, was playing in fits and starts. They had led by as much as 14 points but that had disappeared.
After Allen tied the game, however, the Lady Hornets ratcheted up the defense. Over the next seven minutes, Central managed just one field goal during Bryant’s 17-5 run that put the game away.
The Lady Hornets avenged their earlier loss with the 50-41 win and, in the process, may have eliminated the threat of one of the teams that could’ve contested their effort to reach State.
Bryant improved to 12-9 overall, 5-3 in league play going into another game with similar ramifications at Little Rock McClellan. Central dropped to 10-8 and 2-6.
The game’s decisive stretch began appropriately with a standout defensive play. Central had a chance to take a lead but Amanda Grappe set up in the lane and took a charge against Allen. Bryant took advantage when Ashley Grappe fed Amanda for a short jumper to regain the advantage.
At the other end, Ashley Grappe knocked the ball loose as a Central player tried to drive the lane. In a scramble, Megan Kennedy somehow extracted the ball from a pile and, from the seat of her pants, tossed a pass down the court that Amanda Grappe latched onto, driving for a layup and a 36-32 lead.
Another Ashley Grappe steal led to a free-throw opportunity for Kennedy who converted once to make it 37-32.
Kennedy and sophomore Bridgette McPeak had been assigned to slow down Central’s senior sharp-shooter Erin LeNarz. Hitting 5-of-10 3-pointers, LeNarz led her team with 19 points and had fueled the Lady Tigers’ comeback with a trio of treys in the third quarter. But, in the fourth, she was limited to 3 points, her team’s lone field goal — a 3-pointer — during Bryant’s tell-tale blitz, with 3:20 left in the game.
By that time, an offensive rebound basket by Amanda Grappe, who scored 23 points and gathered 11 rebounds, plus free throws by Ashley had extended Bryant’s lead to 41-33.
After LeNarz’s basket, Shana Ricks trimmed another points off the margin with a free throw. She missed her second shot but teammate Kia Wilbert rebounded. Chassity Robinson misfired on a follow and Bryant’s Yousra Elhagemoussa was fouled on the rebound with 2:39 to go. Though she couldn’t get either shot to fall from the line, she collected the rebound off the second miss and fed Allison Grappe for a layup and a 43-37 lead.
After a Central miss, Bryant worked the clock until, with 1:36 left, Ashley Grappe found an open lane to the hoop and drove for a layup and a 45-37 lead.
Allen missed and Bryant whittled time until Ashley Grappe was fouled with :57 left. Her free throws made it a 10-point game. The run concluded when Ashley Grappe fed Liz Farish for a layup and a 49-37 lead that withstood a pair of late baskets by the Lady Tigers.
For the game, Ashley Grappe finished with 11 points and seven assists while having a hand in eight steals.
Bryant had led 8-6 after a quarter then built its largest lead in the second period, 23-9 before Central whittled it down to 24-16 by halftime.