File photo by Kevin Nagle
NORTH LITTLE ROCK — After trailing by as many as 12 in the first half and 11 early in the second, the Bryant Lady Hornets put together a big third quarter that trimmed the lead of the North Little Rock Lady Charging Wildcats to just 3, 46-43, in the final minute of the third quarter.
But a basket by freshman April Edwards to close out the third not only increased the Lady Cats’ lead but started an 8-0 run that the Lady Hornets were unable to overcome. North Little Rock hit 7 of its 8 shots in the fourth quarter to surge to a 63-52 win.
Bryant had defeated North Little Rock, 54-53 in overtime, in their previous meeting in 6A-Central Conference play. As a result, both teams are 8-5 in league play going into the final night of conference play. They are tied for fourth but just a game behind Cabot and Conway for second.
Bryant closes out at home against Conway this Friday. North Little Rock hosts Cabot.
“I thought they played really well,” said Bryant head coach Brad Matthews regarding North Little Rock. “They’re playing better and better as the season goes on. Obviously, when they’re at home those younger kids are going to play better.
“Give them credit,” he added. “I think they shot it much better tonight than they did the last time we played them. We gave them some transition baskets. When you give up easy baskets on the road that’s tough stuff to overcome. And to their credit, they got out in transition better and they offensive-rebounded, made us pay there. They got in the lane.”
North Little Rock out-boarded Bryant, 36-21, with 17 of those 36 coming at the offensive end. Amauri Williams, a 6-3 sophomore, finished with 14 points and 12 rebounds for the Lady Cats, who were paced by Kalina Foster’s 16 points.
“We can’t give up 63 points and expect to win,” Matthews said. “Our offense wasn’t good. It was sputtery all night. I didn’t do a very good job of getting us in rhythm. But their defense was really good. That’s the best defense we’ve seen in the half court. We couldn’t get by them. We couldn’t do a lot of stuff.”
Still, Tierra Trotter led the Lady Hornets with 23 points. Parris Atkins scored 10, India Atkins 8 and McKenzie Muse 7.
“I thought what really hurt us was we dug ourselves two holes,” said Matthews. “We got down 16-6 and we weren’t looking good doing it. Then, we gave up another spurt there in the fourth. We’d cut it to 3. When you’re giving up spurts on the road, it’s very difficult to overcome.
“I thought our defense was good when we got set but, when it wasn’t, it was because we were getting beat off the dribble a lot. When you get beat off the dribble, bad things happen.”
The 16-6 lead for North Little Rock was at the end of the first quarter. Bryant had gone 2 of 10 from the field in the quarter with five turnovers.
Lexie Taylor, in off the bench, gave the Lady Hornets a spark with a 3 to start the second quarter. Muse followed up with a triple and, after a North Little Rock timeout, Ivory Russ made a steal that led to a 3 by Trotter to cut the lead to 16-15.
The Lady Cats responded with a 12-0 run to build their largest lead of the game 28-15.
Muse ended a three-minute dry spell for Bryant by knocking down a 15-footer. Williams responded with a free throw, but India Atkins hit a 3 and, off a steal by Parris Atkins, Trotter hit a layup to whittle the margin to 29-22 in the final minute. But Destine Duckworth drove for a basket to make it a 9-point lead going into the fourth.
The Lady Hornets surged again after Foster opened the final period with a driving jumper. Trotter answered in kind then Parris Atkins drove for a layup. Williams hit a free throw, but Muse hit another wing jumper and, after the Atkins sisters combined to force a turnover, Trotter hit another layup and suddenly, with 5:26 left to play, the margin was just 34-30.
The lead grew back to 9 but, again, the Lady Hornets rallied. India Atkins drove for a basket then Trotter aced another 3. A free throw by Parris Atkins made it 41-38 with 2:09 left.
It was 46-43 with :30.7 left in the third quarter before Edwards’ basket that started the Lady Cats’ run.
Down 54-43, the Lady Hornets made one last push. Trotter hit a pair of free throws and, off a North Little Rock turnover, Parris Atkins drove for a layup to trim the lead to 54-47.
But that was as close as Bryant could get.
LADY CATS 63, LADY HORNETS 52
Score by quarters
BRYANT 6 16 21 9 — 52
No.Little Rock 16 15 17 15 — 63
LADY HORNETS (16-9, 8-5) 52
Trotter 8-16 5-6 23, P.Atkins 3-6 3-4 10, I.Atkins 2-6 3-4 8, Martin 0-1 1-2 1, Muse 1-5 0-0 3, Scifres 0-0 0-0 0, Taylor 1-5 0-0 3, Russ 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 17-38 (45%) 12-16 (75%) 52.
LADY CATS (15-12, 8-5) 63
Freeman 4-9 2-4 11, Edwards 4-9 1-3 9, Foster 7-13 0-0 16, Duckworth 5-12 0-0 11, Williams 5-9 4-6 14, Hicks 1-2 0-0 2, Fimple 0-0 0-0 0, Jones 0-0 0-0 0, Brown 0-0 0-0 0, Backus 0-0 0-0 0, Vick 0-0 0-0 0. Totals26-56 (46%) 7-13 (54%) 63.
Three-point field goals: Bryant 6-17 (Trotter 2-7, Taylor 1-3, I.Atkins 1-3, P.Atkins 1-2, Muse 1-1, Martin 0-1), North Little Rock 4-9 (Foster 2-3, Freeman 1-2, Duckworth 1-2). Turnovers: Bryant 16, North Little Rock 15. Rebounds: Bryant 3-18 21 (I.Atkins 0-5 5, Trotter 1-2 3, Martin 0-3 3,Muse 1-2 3, Russ 0-2 2, Taylor 0-1 1, team 1-3 4), North Little Rock 17-19 36 (Williams 6-6 12, Freeman 3-4 7, Duckworth 3-3 6, Edwards 1-3 4, Duckworth 1-1 2, Hicks 0-1 1, team 3-1 4). Team fouls: Bryant 11, North Little Rock 10.