For more photos from this event by Kevin Nagle, go here
For more photos from this event by Rick Nation, go here
The Bryant Lady Hornets looked golden.
When senior Riley Hill hit a pull-up jumper to open the scoring in the fourth quarter, the Lady Hornets held their largest lead of the game against the Mount St. Mary Academy Belles, 33-20. It looked like a long-awaited victory was at hand, a little light for a rugged, star-crossed season.
But what followed was a nightmare.
After being held to 20 points through three quarters, the Belles erupted for 30 in the final period. Valerie Kauffman, who hadn’t scored in the game to that point, erupted for a team-high 17 in the fourth quarter alone. Natalie Snook, who hadn’t scored going into the fourth, got all 6 of her points. As a team, the Belles were 12 of 19 from the free-throw line in just the final quarter on their way to a 24-for-38 performance at the stripe on Bryant’s home court.
Mount’s press forced 11 Lady Hornet turnovers in the fourth quarter, 31 in the game.
The result was a gut-punch 52-43 loss for the Lady Hornets, who haven’t enjoyed the sweet taste of victory since Dec. 30.
And they had played so well through three quarters. And, really, held their own for much of the fourth quarter. The Belles couldn’t produce a lead until just 2:20 remained in the contest.
Bryant senior Kendall Rogers, who scored a season-high 17 points, cashed in on a nice drive with 3:58 to go that had her team up 40-33.
But the Belles went on a 12-0 blitz over the next 2:20. Still, it was a one-possession game after Hill hit two free throws with 1:22 to go, 45-42. Mount’s Lizzie Allgood missed two free throws with 1:16 left, giving the Lady Hornets a chance to cut it to one or tie the game. But Snook somehow got the rebound off Allgood’s second miss and scored to make it 47-42.
Rogers trimmed a free throw off the margin. Her second shot was rebounded by teammate Lania Ratliff who was clobbered on the follow shot but got no call.
The Lady Hornets forced a turnover to get another opportunity but Rogers had a shot blocked. The rebound was tied up and, on the alternating possessions, the Belles were awarded the ball. Bryant came right back to force another held ball, getting it back.
The frustrations and adversity continued to plague the Lady Hornets when the ball was knocked away on a drive to the basket for a turnover. Gamely, however, Rogers and sophomore guard Kalia Walker combined on a steal. A turnover, however, undermined the effort and, with :25.5 left, the Belles added a free throw to the lead.
Yet another turnover wiped out another chance to score and, with :06.6 left, Kauffman put the finishing touches on the win.
To go with Rogers’ 17, Hill finished with 7, Mary Catherine Selig 5, Allison Steen 4. Ratliff and Walker scored 3 each. Paige Adams added two free throws. Selig led the Lady Hornets with 7 rebounds. Allgood had 10 for Mount.
Before the last 2:20, the Lady Hornets trailed only once, 6-4, in the early stages of the game. Loveless and Hill combined to force a turnover that resulted in a 3-pointer by Hill off a nice assist from Steen. Mount turned the ball over and Ratliff canned a trey to make it 10-6 going into the second quarter.
The Belles cut the margin to one twice but after the first occasion, Loveless followed her own miss for a clutch basket. After the second, Hill made a steal that led to a three-point play for Rogers to make it 15-11.
When the Belles had cut it to 17-15, Adams came through at the line and, off a turnover, Walker took a pass from Steen and drained a 3 to make it 22-15. After Payton Grice scored for the Belles, Rogers converted two free throws with less than a second left in the half and Bryant held a 24-17 lead going into intermission.
In the third quarter, Mount was unable to score over the first five-minutes-plus of the third quarter. Though they might’ve made more hay from that, the Lady Hornets still built up their largest lead of the game at 30-17. Selig contributed two baskets to that run then Steen took a dish from Rogers and drained a 15-footer.
The lead was cut to 30-20 then Selig added a free throw to make it an 11-point game going into the fourth.
The Lady Hornets will have a very tough assignment on the road Friday at Little Rock Central then return home against Fort Smith Southside next Tuesday.
BELLES 52, LADY HORNETS 43
Score by quarter
Mount St. Mary 6 11 3 32 — 52
BRYANT 10 14 7 12 — 43
BELLES (9-13, 3-6) 52
Ka.Rogers 0-3 1-2 1, Grice 1-5 0-0 2, Kauffman 5-12 5-7 17, Allgood 2-7 10-10 14, Rhinehart 1-5 2-6 4, Snook 3-4 0-0 6, Sagar 1-1 4-6 6, Crawford 0-2 1-5 1, Ranaraja 0-1 1-2 1. Totals 13-40 24-38 52.
LADY HORNETS (3-18, 0-9) 52
Ratliff 1-3 0-0 3, Steen 1-3 2-2 4, Hill 2-3 2-3 7, Selig 2-5 1-3 5, Ke.Rogers 3-5 11-14 17, Lovless 1-7 0-0 2, Walker 1-5 0-0 3, Williams 0-1 0-0 0, Adams 0-0 2-2 2. Totals 11-32 18-24 43.
Three-point field goals: Bryant 3-7 (Ratliff 1-2, Hill 1-2, Walker 1-2, Ke.Rogers 0-1), Mount St. Mary 2-9 (Kauffman 2-4, Grice 0-2, Allgood 0-1, Rhinehart 0-1, Crawford 0-1). Turnovers: Bryant 31, Mount St. Mary 21. Rebounds: Bryant 8-22 30 (Selig 1-6 7, Ke.Rogers 1-5 6, Loveless 3-3 6, Steen 1-4 5, Ratliff 1-2 3, Hill 1-2 3), Mount St. Mary 12-19 31 (Allgood 3-7 10, Kauffman 2-3 5, Sagar 2-3 5, Grice 1-2 3, Rhinehart 1-1 2, Snook 2-0 2, Ranaraja 1-1 2, Ka.Rogers 0-1 1, team 0-1 1). Team fouls: Bryant 26, Mount St. Mary 19. Fouled out: Bryant, Steen, Hill, Selig.