Though they’d led from the outset, by as much as 12, the Bryant Lady Hornets freshman team was clinging to a 20-16 edge at the end of the third quarter against the Watson Chapel Lady Wildcats freshmen.
After missing two chances to get closer at the end of the third and two more at the start of the fourth, the Lady Wildcats were hit with a 13-2 run by Bryant, which helped produce a 29-20 victory for the Lady Hornets.
“I think since I’ve been here, that’s my first 1-0 start,” noted Bryant coach Nathan Castaldi. “We’ll definitely take that.”
The Lady Hornets had six players score led by Mary Catherine Selig with 11. Allison Steen added 7 points and a game-high 13 rebounds including nine on the offensive end.
Bryant’s late surge was sparked by Tenise Robinson’s steal. It led to a free throw by Kalia Walker. The teams exchanged turnovers before Robinson made another steal. Though she couldn’t get her shot to fall, Selig was there for a follow up to make it 23-16.
A Watson Chapel timeout wasn’t even to stem the tide. A few moments later, Selig drove for a basket then Robinson made yet another theft and, this time, cashed it in with a layup that had the Lady Hornets back up by double digits, 27-16 with 2:55 left to play.
The Lady Wildcats ended their drought with 1:54 to go but a baseline jumper from Walker provided an answer. Though Bryant missed a pair of opportunities to extend the lead further at the free throw line, Chapel could only muster two free throws in the final minute to set the final margin.
“I thought the third quarter we kind of came out and played a little maybe complacent,” said Castaldi, whose team led 17-5 at the half. “They came out and made a good run but I was pleased with how we answered. I thought our intensity went back up and we were able to execute a little bit better in the fourth quarter and get the shots we wanted.”
Typical of a season-opener, both teams struggled with turnovers. Chapel had 30, Bryant 25.
“They did some things a little bit different,” Castaldi said of the Lady Wildcats. “This early in the year, you never really know what you’re going to get. So we tried to make sure we took care of the ball and get the shots we wanted. They did a good job of trying to keep us playing a little bit faster than we wanted to but I thought, when we settled down and got into our stuff, we did a pretty good job.”
The Lady Hornets led 6-2 at the end of the first quarter. Rachel Studdard opened the scoring with a jumper from the corner. Selig drove and scored on a pull-up and Megan Lee added a pair of free throws after an offensive rebound.
All of Watson Chapel’s points in the first half came from the free-throw line. They were 0 for 8 from the field.
Still, the Lady Wildcats were within 8-4 at the 3:03 mark of the second quarter. But Selig hit a 12-footer then scored on a jumper in the lane to push it to 12-4. After a Chapel timeout, Robinson nailed a 14-footer to make it a 10-point game.
The teams exchanged free throws then Steen made a steal and drove for a layup to set the halftime score.
The first field goal for Watson Chapel opened the second half and sparked a 9-1 run, cutting the margin to 18-14. The Lady Cats had two chances to get closer before Steen made another theft and a layup. An answering bucket made it 20-16 going into the fourth.
The Lady Hornets are set to return to action on Monday, Nov. 16, when they open the Bryant Invitational Tournament against Hot Springs at the Bryant High School gym, starting at 6:15 p.m.
LADY HORNETS 29, LADY WILDCATS 20
Score by quarters
Watson Chapel 2 3 11 4 — 20
BRYANT 6 11 3 9 — 29
LADY WILDCATS 20
Thomas 1-4 1-2 3, Livingston 2-6 1-4 5, Burns 2-7 4-8 8, Moorehead 0-3 1-2 1, Green 0-1 0-0 0, Nyarangi 1-2 0-0 2, Harris 0-0 1-2 1, Ivory 0-1 0-2 0, Mayweather 0-1 0-0 0, James 0-0 0-0 0, Williams 0-1 0-0 0. Totals: 6-26 8-20 20.
LADY HORNETS 29
Studdard 1-3 0-0 2, Chism 0-1 0-0 0, Selig 5-8 1-6 11, Burnett 0-1 0-1 0, Dugan 0-0 0-0 0, Walker 1-6 1-4 3, Steen 3-5 1-2 7, Lee 0-1 2-2 2, Robinson 2-4 0-0 4, Thompson 0-0 0-1 0, Fason 0-0 0-1 0, Rideout 0-0 0-0 0, Hernandez 0-0 0-0 0, Helton 0-0 0-0 0. Totals: 12-29 5-17 29.
Three-point field goals: none. Turnovers: Bryant 25, Watson Chapel 30. Rebounds: Bryant 25 (Steen 13, Selig 3), Watson Chapel 23 (Livingston 5). Team fouls: Bryant 15, Watson Chapel 17.