Defense sparks Lady Hornets’ comeback win over 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
LITTLE ROCK — Elizabeth Farish did not score a point against the Little Rock Central Tigers Tuesday night, but she came off the bench to play an integral part in the Bryant Lady Hornets’ dramatic come-from-behind victory.
The Lady Hornets were having trouble containing Sharmaine Surratt, the stocky 5-9 senior post for the Lady Tigers. Surratt owned the boards and was on her way to leading her team to a huge upset, scoring 17 points in the game.
Farish, a junior who’s usually not in the Lady Hornets’ regular playing rotation of 10 or 11 players, was called upon by head coach Carla Crowder after one post player after another had struggled to contain Surratt.
“Nobody would block out and get after it underneath,” stated Lady Hornets assistant Mark Scarlett, “until Farish went in and blocked out. That was very important. We were being out-rebounded by 15 when Farish went in and, at the end of the game, that number had dropped to nine.”
And the lead that Central enjoyed for most of the game disappeared completely.
The surge was led offensively by Ashley and Amanda Grappe and Jennifer Slack. Slack finished with a game-high 18 points, Amanda Grappe scored all 14 of her points in the second half including an 8-for-8 performance at the free-throw line. Ashley Grappe finished with 12 and Rachel Blakley with 10.
It was a must-win situation for Central. At 3-4 in league play, the Lady Tigers, despite a victory over sixth-ranked Little Rock Parkview, were looking up at five teams going into the game including four tied for first with 5-2 marks. Bryant was among those.
The Lady Hornets, with the win, improved to 6-2 and 17-4 overall. It was Crowder’s 397th win in her 16 seasons at Bryant.
The breaking point in the game came midway through the fourth quarter. Central had led by 12 late in the third quarter and was still up 54-46 with 5:03 left in the game.
The Lady Hornets’ scrambling fullcourt defense forced a turnover and Slack fed Amanda Grappe for a layup.
After a timeout, Amanda Grappe made a steal and Slack cashed in with a layup, trimming the margin to 54-50.
Another turnover may have led to the key play of the rally. A Bryant miss ricocheted to the right of the lane at the baseline into what appeared to be a group of Lady Tigers. But, somehow, Amie Hubbard emerged from the crowd, throwing up a shot as she was falling to the floor. The basket was good and a foul was called. Hubbard completed the three-point play, firing up her teammates.
Central’s Reecie Abbott forced a wild shot that missed and Ashley Grappe was fouled with 3:50 to go. She converted once to tie the game.
It stayed that way for several trips up and down the floor before Central’s Sherita Jackson canned a floating jumper in the lane to give her team the edge again. Slack answered with a driving layup to knot it up again.
A free throw by Surratt snapped that tie with 2:34 to go, but that would be the last the Lady Tigers would score in the game. They had a chance to add to their lead but Rodgers missed twice at the line. Amanda Grappe hauled down the rebound from the missed second shot and she was fouled.
At the other end, Grappe converted twice to give the Lady Hornets their first lead since early in the second quarter.
Central committed turnovers on each of its next two possessions, feeling the pressure. Blakley knocked down a pair of free throws with :43 left and Slack and Ashley Grappe hit free throws in the final :30 to seal the deal.
Bryant had led 15-12 after a quarter but Central started the second quarter with a 9-2 run to gain the upper hand. The Lady Tigers led at the half 27-22.
Bryant was within 32-28 midway through the third period but the Lady Tigers went on a 11-3 stretch to build their 12-point edge before settling for a 45-38 lead going into the final period. A 3-pointer by Slack with :18 left in the period got the Lady Hornets that close.
“We were very proud of the way the girls came back,” Scarlett said. “Central played very well. In fact, their coach said it was the best game they had played all year. So we took their best effort on an off night for us and came out with a win. The girls just refused to lose that game.”
The Lady Hornets were set to host Little Rock McClellan on Friday. McClellan is one of two teams a game behind the league-leaders, Bryant, Parkview and Mount St. Mary’s.