Aggressive play key at LR Hall
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 — It’s difficult to shoot a basketball well when you’re flinching. But flinch is what you do when you get belted every time you go up for a shot.
But this time, the Bryant Lady Hornets worked through that. After going 1 for 8 from the floor in the first quarter, the Lady Hornets got aggressive, particularly on defense to create some easier opportunities and despite some of the wor – er, most inconsistent officiating of the season, toughed out a 57-40 win at Little Rock Hall, their first road win in five AAAAA-Central Conference games this season.
To their credit, the Lady Hornets weren’t distracted by the rugged play nor those that allowed it to be so. After trailing 5-3 at the end of the first quarter — that’s right, 5-3 — and falling behind 7-3 early in the second, the Lady Hornets put together a 17-4 run to gain the upper hand.
The run began when Amanda Grappe (21 points, 7 rebounds) hit a jump hook. On that play, the officials caught Hall’s Veronica Overton throwing a punch and called a technical (though the official came to the scorer’s table and said “we’ll call that an elbow even though it was a punch.”)
Ashley Grappe hit one of the technical free throws to cut the lead to 7-6 and, a little later, she fed Amanda for a layup that gave Bryant the lead.
A basket by Hall’s Victoria Murdock had her team up for a moment but Ashley Grappe and Amie Hubbard combined on a steal that led to a layup by Grappe who swiped the subsequent inbounds pass and scored again to make it 12-9.
The Lady Hornets built the lead to 20-11 and held a 21-15 edge at halftime despite converting just 5 of 14 free throws in the half.
Hall’s Raquel Bailey scored the first bucket of the second half but Bryant countered with a 20-2 blitz using a press at times to force Lady Warriors mistakes.
Amanda Grappe scored inside to start the run. Allison Grappe added a baseline jumper then fed Robin Speake for a basket inside to make it 27-17.
After a Hall timeout, Allison and Speake teamed up again for a basket and Ashley Grappe nailed a 15-footer to make it 31-17.
A basket by Che’Naida Bozeman interrupted the run but Hubbard countered with an 18-foot jay, Amanda Grappe made a steal and fed Allison for a deuce. A theft by Ashley Grappe resulted in a stickback basket for her.
Hall missed two chances to score at the free throw line and a third opportunity that resulted in a turnover before Amanda Grappe and Bridgette McPeak teamed up to force a turnover. Grappe converted a free throw then made yet another steal that resulted in a free throw for Ashley and a 39-19 lead.
Allison Grappe capped off the run with a steal, getting the ball to Ashley then getting it back for the basket to bump the margin to 22.
Hall was able to cut the lead to 14 midway through the fourth quarter but back-to-back give-and-go plays that resulted in baskets for Speake and Amanda Grappe turned the momentum back to Bryant and the Lady Warriors were never that close again.
The win improved Bryant to 19-5 on the season, 6-4 in conference play going into a vital stretch of games against the three top teams in the conference starting with North Little Rock at home on Friday, Feb. 11.