By Rob Patrick
The fourth quarter belongs to the Bryant Lady Hornets. And they proved it again on Tuesday, Jan. 13, against the Van Buren Pointerettes.
For three quarters, the two teams battled back and forth, both aggressively attacking the other’s defense, trading the lead back and forth.
The Pointerettes held a 61-57 lead, as much of a margin as they’d enjoyed the whole game. But, sparked by Alana Morris, the Lady Hornets opened the final period with a 17-0 blitz to take over the game. With Morris scoring 11 of her 20 points in the final eight minutes, Bryant claimed an 81-73 victory, its second in as many 7A-Central Conference games to date.
“We out-scored them 25-10 in the fourth quarter and that’s the ballgame,” acknowledged Lady Hornets head coach Blake Condley. “That’s where, I felt, our conditioning was key — not only physically but mentally, making sure that, late in the game, we could still push, still get up and down the floor.”
The 81 points was the most by a Lady Hornets team in one game since Nov. 28, 1997, when Bryant won a game at a tournament in Lovelady, Texas, 96-35, over Chester, Texas.
“I thought our depth — girls coming off the bench and giving us good minutes — was big,” Condley emphasized. “Shanika Johnson came in and had double figures off the bench tonight. Friday night (at Mount St. Mary’s), Haley Montgomery had double figures coming in off the bench. We’ve got girls that essentially could be starters, coming off the bench and giving us good minutes, giving us good point production, playing good defense. That makes it a good team effort. We’re playing well together right now.”
The Lady Hornets improved to 11-2 overall with their 2-0 mark in the league tying them with North Little Rock and Cabot atop the standings going into a trip to Russellville on Friday, Jan. 16.[more]
“There’s no gimme’s in this conference,” Condley said in praise of Van Buren. “Every night, we’re going to have to show up and play. Every win we get is big.”
The Pointerettes, 9-6 and 1-1, were led by forward Amy Walden’s 27 points and 19 rebounds. Chandler Graham added 12, and Sydney Blake 11.
Anna Simpson paced the Lady Hornets with 22 points including 18 in the first half when she seemed to come up with a basket every time Bryant absolutely had to have one to keep it close.
To go with Morris’ 20 and Johnson’s 12, Hannah Goshien pitched in with 12 including a trio of 3-pointers.
“It was kind of a tale of two halves,” Condley noted. “Anna kept us in it in the first half. She played so huge. Then Alana stepped up in the second half when we needed her to. I think there was one stretch where she reeled off 6 points in a row.”
Indeed, they were the first 6 of the fourth quarter. Morris came into the period with just four field goals in 16 attempts with a free throw. She followed up her drive to the basket to start the scoring in the fourth by blocking a shot at the other end. Moments later, he layup tied the game at 61.
Van Buren’s Kaitlyn Kemp had a chance to break the tie at the free-throw line but missed the front end. The Lady Hornets rushed up the floor and Morris got inside for another deuce and the lead.
Blake misfired for Van Buren and Morris pulled down the rebound. The Pointerettes forced a held ball to regain possession but the Lady Hornets forced a turnover and Morris made a sparkling pass to Johnson for a layup to keep the roll going.
After a Van Buren timeout, Blake missed a 3 and, at the other end, Montgomery was fouled on a 3-point try. After she had converted all three free throws, Bryant held a 68-61 lead.
Johnson’s steal and layup, another Van Buren turnover, and a turnaround jumper by Morris had Bryant up 72-61. To cap the blitz, Morris helped force a turnover that led to a layup by Montgomery and a 74-61 advantage.
Graham finally broke the Pointerettes drought with a pair of free throws at the 4:14 mark. Keri Arnold added a free throw to trim the lead to 10 and Van Buren had a chance to get closer after a Bryant miss. But Montgomery and Johnson combined to forced a turnover that eventually led to a basket by Simpson on a jumper in the lane.
A three-point play by Blake kept Van Buren’s hopes alive but free throws by Morris and another layup by Johnson off a Morris assist, kept the Pointerettes from getting any closer until the final seconds.
Bryant held the upper hand for most of the first half. Simpson, Goshien, Taylor Hughes, Morris and Kenzee Calley each contributed as they built a 13-10 edge midway through the first quarter. Led by Graham and Walden, however, Van Buren surged to a 17-13 lead. Bryant took its turn with Morris knocking down a baseline jumper, Simpson driving to the hoop for a three-point play and Calley hitting a free throw to make it 19-17.
After Blake tied it, Johnson, following her own miss, turned in a three-point play that provided the margin of Bryant’s lead going into the second period.
Walden hit a free throw but the Lady Hornets reeled off 7 straight points on a 3 by Goshien, a stickback by Simpson and a post-up bucket by Morris.
Back came the Pointerettes with a 13-2 stretch to regain the lead 33-31 before Goshien nailed a triple and the seesaw commenced until Simpson’s second three-point play of the final minute of the half produced a 43-40 lead for the Lady Hornets. Blake’s basket at the buzzer made it a 1-point game at the half.
And the Pointerettes built on that last basket as the second half unfolded. Walden hit a 3 and Arnold followed up to make it 47-43.
Bryant rallied to take a 50-49 edge only to have Van Buren surge again for its 61-57 lead at the end of the period.
LADY HORNETS 81, POINTERETTES 73
Score by quarters
Van Buren 19 23 19 12 — 73
BRYANT 22 21 14 24 — 81
LADY HORNETS 81
Player fg-fga ft-fta reb fls pts
Hughes 2-5 0-0 1-0 1 1 4
Morris 8-23 4-8 1-6 7 2 20
Calley 2-6 1-2 2-0 2 1 5
Goshien 4-6 1-1 2-5 7 4 12
A.Simpson 9-16 4-5 3-2 5 2 22
Montgomery 1-1 4-7 0-2 2 4 6
Johnson 5-8 2-3 1-3 4 3 12
Team reb. 3-0 3
Totals 31-65 16-26 13-18 31 17 81
Player fg-fga ft-ft reb fls pts
Kemp 1-3 0-1 0-4 4 4 2
Arnold 4-9 1-2 0-3 3 4 9
Blake 4-17 3-3 2-3 5 4 11
Walden 9-15 8-10 8-11 19 2 27
Graham 5-8 2-2 5-4 9 4 12
T.Simpson 1-6 0-0 2-0 2 1 2
Jones 4-5 2-2 2-1 3 0 4
Tucker 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0
Team reb. 2-0 2
Totals 28-63 16-20 21-26 47 21 73
Three-point field goals: Bryant 3-10 (Goshien 3-3, Morris 0-5, Simpson 0-1, Johnson 0-1), Van Buren 1-8 (Walden 1-1, Blake 0-5, T.Simpson 0-2). Turnovers: Bryant 12, Van Buren 24. Technical foul: Bryant, substitution.