Freshman girls ride defense to win at Mount

LITTLE ROCK — With 3:56 left in the first half, the Mount St. Mary Academy Mounties freshman team led the Bryant Lady Hornets, 15-8. Hannah Storey had just hit a 3 for the Mounties.

But, as it turned out, that was the last field goal the Lady Hornets allowed in the game. Mount St. Mary went the last 3:56 of the first half and the entire second half without another basket. The Mounties were held to just four free throws after the intermission and the Lady Hornets were able to rally for a 29-20 win at the McAuley Center.

“I thought really, defensively, we played much better,” acknowledged Bryant coach Nathan Castaldi. “With about three-and-a-half minutes left (in the first half), I looked at Coach Jefferson and said, ‘They’ve scored 15 points in a quarter and a half.’

“I told the girls that during a timeout then (Mount) ended up with 20,” he continued. “So our defensive pressure was much better, transitioning. They were getting out and getting easy buckets, which really put us in a bind early. I thought we did a much better job in the second half.”

Mary Catherine Selig kept Bryant in the game in the first half, scoring all 10 of her points, which proved to be a game-high. In the second half, Megan Chism, Kalia Walker and Allison Steen each scored 5 points. Walker finished with 9 in the game.

Steen scored all 5 of her points and grabbed an amazing total of 12 rebounds in just the fourth quarter.

“She did a great job coming off the bench, really sparking us, I think, rebounding the basketball,” Castaldi said of Steen. “She always rebounds really hard. Sometimes she has a tendency to kick the ball out instead of being aggressive and going back up. Tonight, she got rebounds and put them right back up and scored.”

In fact, it was a three-point play off an offensive board by Steen with 3:37 left in the game that put the Lady Hornets ahead to stay. A steal and miss by Selig set up the play.

Free throws by Walker and Chism increased the lead to 25-19 before Alison Allgood connected from the line for the Mounties’ lone point of the fourth quarter with 2:27 to go. Mount St. Mary was 1 of 7 from the line in the final stanza.

Another stickback by Steen made it 27-20. After two misses on Mount’s end and a series of turnovers, Walker put the finishing touches on the win with two free throws.

It was the second win in a row for Bryant, just the second time this season, the Lady Hornets have been able to put together back-to-back wins.

“I think we’re moving in the right direction,” Castaldi said. “We talk about that in practice, about getting that momentum, keeping that momentum. We’ve got a tough one tomorrow, a make-up game at Lake Hamilton. Hopefully, we can keep it going.”

The game was originally to be played on Jan. 21 but snow and ice prevented it. Bryant has previously lost to Lake Hamilton twice. On Nov. 30, the Lady Wolves handed the Lady Hornets a 27-18 setback. On Dec. 30, in the finals of Lake Hamilton’s holiday tournament, the Lady Wolves outlasted Bryant 32-23.

The Lady Hornets started well on Monday at Mount. Selig, playing at the high post, drove for a basket then scored on a jumper off a feed from Chism. Her free throw at the 2:27 mark made it 5-2.

Sparked by guard Anya Randraja who scored 8 points in a row for Mount, the Mounties led 8-5 at the end of the first quarter and 12-6 early in the second. Walker scored off a drive then Storey delivered her 3 to make it 15-8.

A free throw from Mabry Meadors provided the only point the rest of the half for the Mounties. Selig led the Bryant rally with a pair of baskets including one off the offensive glass. Walker converted two free throws along the way and the Lady Hornets were within 16-14 at the break.

Chism tied it with a basket off a back-door cut and a nice feed from Lauren Burnett. Moments later, Chism’s free throw had the Lady Hornets back on top.

But Bryant was unable to score over the last 4:49 of the third quarter and the first 1:42 of the fourth. Mount, however, was unable to take big advantage of the drought. Free throws from Mallory Howard and Ashley Suffridge had them up 19-17 going into the fourth quarter but then it was the Mounties that went dry. After Suffridge’s free throws with 2:00 left in the third quarter, they went scoreless until Allgood’s free throw late in the final period.

Mount’s defense was pretty good too. They forced 21 Bryant turnovers and held the Lady Hornets to just 27 percent shooting from the floor (9 of 33) in the game.

Meanwhile, Bryant held Mount to 21 percent shooting from the field and out-rebounded the Mounties 36-18.

Walker tied the game at 19 with 4:18 left to set up Steen’s clutch three-point play. After the trip to Lake Hamilton, the Lady Hornets close out the regular season with three home games beginning with a visit from Russsellville on Thursday.

LADY HORNETS 29, MOUNTIES 20

Score by quarters

BRYANT          5          9          3          12 — 29

MSM               8          8          3          1 — 20

LADY HORNETS 29 Studdard 0-2 0-0 0, Chism 1-5 3-4 5, Selig 4-9 2-4 10, Burnett 0-0 0-0 0, Walker 2-8 5-7 9, Dugan 0-2 0-0 0, Steen 2-3 1-1 5, Robinson 0-4 0-0 0, Lee 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 9-33 (27%) 11-16 (69%) 29.

MOUNTIES 20 Suffridge 0-2 2-4 2, Ranaraja 3-11 2-2 8, Meadors 0-3 1-2 1, Allgood 1-1 1-2 3, Howard 0-2 1-2 1, Storey 1-3 0-0 3, Holloway 0-2 0-0 0, Norris 1-2 0-0 2, Kagy 0-2 0-3 0. Totals 6-28 (21%) 7-15 (47%) 20.

Three-point field goals: Bryant 0-4 (Walker 0-2, Dugan 0-1, Robinson 0-1), Mount St. Mary 1-4 (Storey 1-1, Ranaraja 0-1, Howard 0-1, Holloway 0-1). Turnovers: Bryant 21, Mount St. Mary 17. Rebounds: Bryant 15-21 36 (Steen 4-8 12, Selig 4-6 10, Burnett 2-4 6, Walker 3-1 4, Studdard 1-0 1, Chism 1-0 1, Dugan 0-1 1, team 0-1 1), Mount St. Mary 5-13 18 (Allgood 1-3 4, Ranaraja 1-2 3, Storey 1-2 3, Suffridge 1-1 2, Meadors 1-1 2, Howard 0-1 1, Holloway 0-1 1, Kagy 0-1 1, team 0-1 1). Team fouls: Bryant 15, Mount St. Mary 17. Fouled out: Bryant, Chism.

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