January 25 in Bryant athletic history: 2014

Hornets come from behind to snag fourth straight win

EDITOR’S NOTE: Because the look back at each day in Bryant athletic history has been so favorably received during the time when there was no sports during the COVID-19 shutdown, BryantDaily.com will continueposting past stories of Bryant athletics either posted on BryantDaily.com (from 2009 to the present) or published in the Bryant Times (from 1998 to 2008).

Photos by Kevin Nagle

Even in warm-ups, it looked like the Bryant Hornets’ bid for a fourth consecutive win in South Conference play was going to be a tall order. A big Texarkana Razorbacks team was in town and, right away, it seemed they would get nearly ever rebound. In fact, of their first 8 points, they scored after grabbing offensive caroms.

Kevin Hunt (11) goes to the off hand to score over Texarkana's Maurice Lofton. (Photo by Kevin Nagle)

Kevin Hunt (11) goes to the off hand to score over Texarkana’s Maurice Lofton. (Photo by Kevin Nagle)

It was the old “jack-and-crash” strategy and it seemed to be working against the undersized Hornets.

Bryant kept pace in the first quarter but, sparked by Kedreaus Cheatham, who scored 10 points off the bench in the second quarter, the Razorbacks took a 28-20 lead to the locker at halftime.

At the time, the Hornets were being out-rebounded by 10 and the Razorbacks were hitting 62 percent of their shots.

By the end, however, Bryant nearly erased that deficit on the boards and Texarkana wound up at 39 percent from the field as the Hornets rallied to claim that fourth straight victory, 53-43, at the Hornets’ Nest.

Senior C.J. Rainey wound up with 26 points, 20 of that in the second half. Sophomore Kevin Hunt and freshman Romen Martin added 11 apiece for the Hornets who evened their overall record to 8-8 and improved to 4-1 in league games, retaining their share of first place going into a trip to Lake Hamilton on Tuesday.

“I’m proud that they came back because, lately, we’ve been playing with the lead, trying to hold people off,” said Bryant head coach Mike Abrahamson. “This was a comeback against a talented team.”

Texarkana actually scored the first basket of the second half, making it a 10-point game and, after Bryant cut it back to 1, built it back up to 9 with six minutes left in the game. The Razorbacks, trying to get Bryant out of its zone defense, pulled the ball out and forced the Hornets to extend their defense.

C.J. Rainey fires up a contested shot on his way to a 26-point night. (Photo by Kevin Nagle)

C.J. Rainey fires up a contested shot on his way to a 26-point night. (Photo by Kevin Nagle)

But that’s when Bryant made its move as the renewed defensive pressure exposed Texarkana’s struggles to handle the ball.

Rainey hit two free throws and, after Cedarrian Crosby rebounded the miss off a shot by the Razorbacks’ Landin Galberth, he pulled up at the free-throw line and canned a jumper to make it 39-35.

Wesley Peters made a steal for the Hornets and Rainey got to the rim for a layup to force a Texarkana timeout.

Shimeyz Oliver hit a 15-footer to stem the tied for the Razorbacks but Crosby was fouled hard from behind on a drive moments later. He confronted Cheatham who had committed the foul and was hit with a technical. But Crosby hit his two free throws to tie the game and, at the other end, Texarkana’s Malcolm Elliott, with the Bryant student section raising a ruckus, missed both shots for the technical.

And when the Hogs got the ball, Maurice Lofton misfired and Peters wrestled away the rebound. With 4:33 left, Martin was fouled on a drive. He hit the second his two shots and the Hornets had a lead for the first time since the end of the first quarter.

And, as it turned out, they would not relinquish it.

Rainey, after rebounding on the defensive end, was fouled with 3:38 left. He converted twice to make it 44-41. Oliver got clear for a layup but rushed it against the Bryant pressure and it rolled off the lip of the rim. Hunt rebounded and headed the other way, going coast-to-coast for a layup that pushed the margin to 5.

On consecutive trips up the floor, Oliver then Lofton missed layups. Crosby rebounded both times and, after the second, Martin was fouled. Again, he made one of the two shots but, after the 6-6 Elliott missed a jump hook in the lane, Hunt rebounded and got the ball to Rainey who was eventually fouled with 1:11 left.

He too make one of the two shots, making it 48-41. And, at the other end, Crosby set up and took a charge on Lofton’s drive and frustration set in for the Razorbacks.

In the final 1:01, Rainey and Crosby added free throws as Bryant closed it out with its largest lead of the game at the end.

Asked what he talked to his team about at halftime, Abrahamson said, “We just talked about making happen what we want to happen.

“I thought at the beginning of the game, we weren’t blocking well and rebounding well,” he related. “We were kind of hoping it would fall to us. We were jumping with those guys. It wasn’t working.

“Then I thought we were doing a little bit better with that but we were settling for 3’s — 3’s that we can make but it wasn’t the way that we want to get those 3’s,” the coach explained. “We weren’t getting the ball inside at all. Not that we had to shoot it inside but we had to get it in there just to be a threat in there. I wanted to try to get to the free-throw line more and I wanted to get better kickouts instead of just passing around the perimeter to get a 3.”

The game began with Hunt and Martin drained treys around a stickback by Texarkana post player Kendrick Mims. The game was tied before Rainey knocked down a triple. Martin and Elliott traded baskets then Lofton and Landin Galberth scored to give the Razorbacks their first lead at 12-11.

The Hornets managed to regain the advantage when Martin tipped in a miss at the buzzer.

Texarkana, however, opened up the second quarter with a 10-1 run. Bryant’s first field goal of the period didn’t come until the 3:07 mark when Rainey fired in a 15-foot jumper. But Cheatham drilled a 3 and the lead was 9.

Two free throws by Hunt, who followed up with a drive to the rack off a Texarkana turnover made it 25-20 before Cheatham’s second 3 made it 28-20 at the half.

As it turned out, the 10 points he scored in the second quarter, were all Cheatham would get in the game.

“We didn’t want to deviate from the plan,” Abrahamson said of the second-half strategy. “Then when they decided to hold it, we said, ‘Okay, we’ve got to come after them a little bit.’ It did a couple of things. It pressured them, forced them to be a little bit more uncomfortable than they were earlier in the game. It opened the floor up for us offensively, allowed us to get some transition baskets and some things going to the basket in the half-court. They turned the ball over some. They missed some shots. Then we were blocking out and going up and getting the rebound around the rim. Guys like Cedarrian and Kevin and Wesley, they’re going up and grabbing them. C.J. got a couple.

“We picked up the pressure in the half-court,” he continued. “We picked them up full-court a few times then we tried to throw a few traps on them in the half-court. We did a few different things. Then we straight-up pressured them and didn’t throw any traps at them but they were anticipating those traps and I think they were rattled.

“It helps when they miss three point-blank layups but that’s the pace of the game, that’s the situation of the game,” the coach mentioned. “That’s been us in the past but tonight we only had nine turnovers. When we got the lead, we didn’t turn it over.”

Texarkana had eight different players score, led by Cheatham. Oliver had 9 off the bench and Lofton 7.

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