Randall helps Bryant erase slow start
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
This time, it was Jeanne Randall’s turn.
With the depth of talent on the Bryant Lady Hornets’ basketball team in 2003, the competition for playing time is considerable. After two AAAAA-Central Conference losses a couple of weeks ago, head coach Carla Crowder decided she was going to play those that worked the hardest, the ones that hustled.
Bryant hasn’t lost since and it seems that, in every game including the 48-41 win over Little Rock McClellan on Friday, Feb. 7, someone different comes in off the bench to elevate the team’s play, providing a spark that helps pave the way to victory.
As hard as it was to imagine, the Lady Hornets had managed just two points — two free throws by Jennifer Slack on two different trips to the line — in the entire first quarter against McClellan’s Lady Lions. Fortunately, while there are offensive slumps from time to time for any team, defense never goes in a slump.
And it was the Lady Hornets’ defense that kept them from being in a big hole in that first quarter. They trailed just 6-2.
Randall started the second quarter and quickly accounted for Bryant’s first field goal of the night, a jumper in the lane. At the other end, McClellan center Ashley McDonald misfired and there was Randall for the rebound.
The Lady Hornets turned the ball over, however, and McDonald scored on a lob into the post. Bryant countered quickly, solving the Lady Lions’ press for a layup by Slack. Randall got the assist.
After a pair of McClellan misses, Slack, who scored 11 of her 13 points in the first half, hit a free throw. She missed the second but Randall kept it alive. Amie Hubbard got the stickback and the Lady Hornets had their first lead of the game at 9-8 with 5:54 left in the first half.
McClellan rallied and led 22-20 at the half on a last-second bucket by Bernadette Cunningham. And when Quandero Springs drove for a layup to start the third quarter, Bryant trailed by 4.
Then it was Ashley Grappe’s turn to step up. Grappe nailed a 3 to cut the lead to 1 and, after a turnover, Slack knocked down a baseline jumper. It was the start of an 11-0 run that put Bryant ahead for good.
The run included a coast-to-coast drive for a layup by Randall, a layup by Amanda Grappe off an eye-catching pass from Ashley and a layup by Megan Kennedy off a nice assist from Amanda Grappe.
The Lady Hornets eventually led by 12. Early in the fourth quarter, Amanda Grappe scored off a baseline drive and, after a pair of McClellan misses, Slack drove the lane, ran into traffic and kicked the ball back outside to Ashley Grappe, who knocked down her second 3. Trailing 40-28 with 6:00 to go, the Lady Lions needed a timeout.
And they had a rally still in them. Only a pair of free throws by Randall interrupted McClellan’s 8-point run. With the momentum building in the Lady Lions’ favor, Ashley Grappe coolly dropped a 12-foot jay to stem the tide a bit with 2:45 to go.
Moments later, however, Nyeshia Stevenson canned a 3-pointer to get her team within 44-41. And Stevenson had a shot to tie it after McDonald blocked a shot by Randall and got the ball back for McClellan. But Stevenson misfired.
The Lady Lions were unable to score again and free throws by Ashley Grappe and Randall re-extended the margin for Bryant.
Ashley Grappe finished with a game-high 14 points. Randall with 10.
For McClellan, Stevenson, a freshman who scored 19 against Bryant earlier this season, managed just 5. McDonald, who had 16 in that previous encounter, was limited to 8.
The win improved the Lady Hornets to 18-4 on the season, 7-2 in conference play, tied with Mount St. Mary’s and Little Rock Parkview atop the league standings with Conway a game back at 6-3.