Photos by Kevin Nagle
BENTON — Neither the Bryant Hornets nor the Benton Panthers freshman teams gave much[more] away when they met in their Central Arkansas Conference opener at Benton Arena Monday night. But the Hornets were more than stingy. They were downright larcenous as they forced 29 turnovers on their way to a 32-16 win.
It was the fourth straight win for Bryant after a season-opening loss to Vilonia in overtime.
The Hornets held their rival without a point in the first quarter and to just 1 point in the third. The Panthers didn’t reach double figures scoring as a team until just 2:35 was left in the third quarter. By then, Bryant had built a 19-point cushion.
No one scored in double digits in the contest. Bryant’s J.C. Newborn had 9 points with Brandan Warner and K.J. Hill adding 5 each. Ketiran Jones led Benton with 5.
“The defense was real good,” acknowledged Hornets coach Jim Pennington. “We put on a lot of pressure, K.J. put a lot of pressure on their point guard, kept him from penetrating and the kids got up and got after them a little bit. I was really proud of the defense.
“We’ve still got to work on our offense,” he noted. “It takes a lot more timing and we’ve got to do a better job of running our offense, to get the ball where it needs to get to when it needs to get there. We had opportunities to get the ball into the high post where we needed to get it but we didn’t get it there. We’ve got to work on it but it’s still early.”
The Hornets host Lake Hamilton in their next opportunity on Monday, Nov. 28.
While holding Benton to just six shot attempts in the first quarter, the Hornets built a 9-0 lead. Newborn had a layup to break the ice. Hill added a pair of free throws and Warner nailed Bryant’s lone 3-pointer of the game to make it 7-0 and force a Benton timeout.
When play resumed, the Panthers’ Cameron Spivey missed on a 3-point try and John Winn rebounded. He was fouled taking it to the rack and tacked on a pair of free throws to make it 9-0.
Jones got the Panthers’ first points on a drive with 4:28 left in the half. But Hill fed Ryan Hall for an answering bucket. On three free throws in four tries, Marcus Withers bumped the margin to 14-2 going into the final minute of the half. Benton closed with a free throw by Bryan Kirby. And when he missed the second try, Stone Paul rebounded and scored to set the halftime count at 14-5.
Spivey knocked down a 3 to start the third quarter and Benton was as close as it would get. Bryant’s defense put the clamps on and the Panthers were unable to even get off another shot attempt in the third quarter.
A free throw by Winn and baskets by Hill and Newborn made it 19-8 going into the final period. The Hornets extended that 5-0 run to 13-0 before Jones’ 3 ended Benton’s scoring drought.
The fourth-quarter surge that propelled the Hornets to that 19-point advantage included free throws by Warner and Newborn — the latter after he and Winn combined on a steal — baskets by Hall and Newborn and another free throw from Hill.
In the final minute of the game, Brett Fisher had a basket and Mar’kevious Nelson converted a free throw for Bryant, pushing the lead back to 19 at 32-13. In the last seconds, Jake Edmonson hit a free throw for the Panthers and, at the buzzer, Paul grabbed the carom off the missed second shot and scored to set the final margin.
HORNETS 32, PANTHERS 16
Score by quarters
BRYANT 9 5 5 13 — 32
Benton 0 5 3 8 — 16
Hill 1-5 3-5 5, Winn 0-5 3-4 3, Warner 1-6 2-2 5, Newborn 4-6 1-4 9, Hall 2-3 0-0 4, Withers 0-0 3-4 3, Nelson 0-0 1-2 1, Fisher 1-3 0-0 2, Green 0-0 0-0 0, Buffington 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 9-29 13-21 32.
Jones 2-3 0-0 5, Spivey 1-4 0-0 3, Patterson 0-2 0-0 0, Warhurst 0-0 2-2 2, Kirby 0-2 1-4 1, Baker 0-0 1-2 1, Hart 0-0 0-0 0, Betyo 0-1 0-0 0, Edmondson 0-3 0-0 0, Paul 2-4 0-0 4, Hubble 0-0 0-0 0, McFarland 0-0 0-0 0, Bruning 0-0 0-0 0, Crawford 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 5-19 4-8 16.
Three-point field goals: Bryant 1-11 (Warner 1-4, Winn 0-3, Hills 0-2, Newborn 0-1, Buffington 0-1), Benton 2-8 (Spivey 1-4, Jones 1-1, Patterson 0-2, Betyo 0-1). Rebounds: Bryant 19 (Hill, Winn 4), Benton 22 (Patterson, Paul 4). Turnovers: Bryant 14, Benton 29. Team fouls: Bryant 12, Benton 18.