By Rob Patrick
Photos by Kevin Nagle
LITTLE ROCK — The Bryant Lady Hornets freshmen put together an 11-0 run in the fourth quarter to[more] give themselves a chance against the Mounties of Mount St. Mary Academy at McCauley Center Monday night. In the process, they whittled a 21-9 deficit to 21-20. And, though they had chances to take the lead, the shots just would not fall and the Mounties escaped with a 26-24 win.
It just took the Lady Hornets a while to get going in both halves. They were unable to find the range in the first quarter, falling behind 6-0 but rallied in the second quarter. When AnneMarie Keith hit a 3 in the final minute, they were back within 12-8. And they nearly got closer when, at the buzzer, Kailey Nagle’s 3-point shot did everything but go through the net as it swirled around the rim and came out.
In the third quarter, Bryant, frustrated by Mount’s collapsing zone defense was limited to one free throw by Annie Patton.
Trailing by 12, the Lady Hornets got a spark off the bench from Carolyn Reeves who made a strong post-up move and got fouled with 5:06 to go. She converted both free throws.
Despite some foul trouble, Lady Hornets head coach Nathan Castaldi put his team in a press at that point and the Mounties began to struggle. The teams exchanged turnovers then, after a MSM miss, Britney Sahlmann was fouled grabbing the rebound.
By that time, the Mounties were in foul trouble too and the Lady Hornets were in the bonus. Though Sahlmann missed the front end, she came back with a steal and drove for a layup that resulted in a Mount St. Mary timeout.
When play resumed, the Mounties misfired again and Bryant point guard Skylar Davis was fouled on the rebound. At the other end, she converted one of her free throws.
Moments later, Davis got free for a 3 and the lead was trimmed to 21-17. The Lady Hornets forced a held ball and regained possession. Patton was fouled and, though she missed the front end, Sahlmann again hustled to grab the rebound and kicked it out to Davis for another triple. The lead was just 21-20 and Mount St. Mary called timeout with 2:55 to play.
After the teams returned to the floor, the Mounties scored to snap the Bryant run. Both teams missed chances to score over the next minute as the game turned into a scramble. Finally, off a Mount St. Mary turnover, Nagle got free on the baseline for a jumper and nailed it to make it 23-22 with 1:27 to go.
Castaldi called a timeout to talk strategy. Mount returned to the floor with the offense spread. They scored with 1:07 left and, in turn, the Lady Hornets missed a pair of shots at answering. They got another chance, however, when the Mounties missed a pair of free throws with :40.8 showing.
Patton rebounded but a turnover cost them that opportunity. But Mount helped out by taking an ill-advised shot with :18 left. Sahlmann rebounded and got the ball ahead to Davis, whose shot was blocked.
The Mounties ran it up the floor and tried a shot only to miss. This time, however, they were able to get the rebound and a foul on the play resulted in a free throw that made it 26-22, a two-possession game with :14.3 to go.
Patton was fouled with :03.4 to go and converted twice to cut it back to 2. After a timeout, the Lady Hornets tried to deny the inbounds pass in hopes of forcing a five-second call that would get them one last shot at tying or winning the game. But the Mounties just got it in in time. The Lady Hornets fouled and both shots were missed but there wasn’t enough time to get the ball up the floor for a final shot attempt.
Davis led Bryant with 10 points. Patton had 5, Keith 3 with Nagle, McCormick and Sahlmann 2 each.
The Lady Hornets are set to host Conway Blue this Thursday in their final game before the Christmas break.