Hornets complete sweep to capture OrthoArkansas tourney title


By Rob Patrick

MAUMELLE — A 16-0 run in the first half in which sophomore K.J. Hill scored the first 12[more] points put the Bryant Hornets in position to reel off a 53-31 win over the Central Arkansas Christian Mustangs in the final game of the OrthoArkansas/Baptist Health Invitational Tournament at CAC.

If the Hornets knew they had the tourney title sewed up as the only remaining unbeaten team going into the game, they didn’t play like it. They pressured the Mustangs into 23 turnovers and 25 percent shooting from the floor (10 of 40) on the way to the victory.

“That was our play, to just make them uncomfortable,” said Hornets coach Mike Abrahamson, who had been concerned about how his own team would respond to playing for the third day in a row. “We just kept the pressure up and tried to wear on them. It was day three of the tournament for them too.

“That’s a credit to our players,” he added. “They’re taking care of their bodies. They’re icing, they’re stretching, they’re drinking water, they’re getting rest when they go home. They’re sacrificing hanging out with friends and staying up late, doing what they need to do so we can play well.”

Hill finished with a game-high 15 points and was named Bryant’s player of the game. Greyson Giles added 10 points as eight different players contributed to the Hornets’ scoring total. Luke Rayburn added 7 points with C.J. Rainey and Zach Cambron pitching in with 6 each.

Josh Holland led CAC with 12. Logan Stafford had 9.

But the Mustangs were unable to record a field goal in the game until just 2:08 was left in the half, missing their first 14 field goal attempts. All 4 of their points up until then had come on free throws by Holland, two of which came with 4:35 left in the first quarter. It was still 4-2 inside the two-minute mark but Hill canned a 3 at 1:35 to start the surge that put Bryant in control.

Hill drove for a layup, made a steal and got another in the final :40 to push the lead to 9-4. His three-point play off a loose ball that was saved by Giles made it 12-4 to start the second quarter. Moments later, he pulled up at the elbow on a drive from the wing and nailed a jumper to make it a double-digit lead.

“The thing about K.J. is, I haven’t really coached him that much so he’s still trying to figure out what we do,” said Abrahamson. “He was a good player before he got to me so I’m not going to take credit for it. Between football and AAU — he split time between us and those two things all summer then had football and came back out. He’s just a special athlete in the sense that he’s very fundamental but he’s not a robot. He sees things that other people can’t see. He’s a special player and he played well all three games. Today, he kind of pushed us forward.”

A CAC timeout didn’t stem the tide. Brian Reed stole a pass into the post and Rainey cashed in at the other end at the rim. Strodney Davis capped off the blitz with a layup off another Mustangs turnover.

And the Hornets had two chances to extend the margin further before Stafford’s drive produced the first Mustangs’ field goal.

That sparked a 9-2 run by CAC to end the half, which ended with Bryant up 20-13.

“I thought we started off with great energy,” acknowledged Abrahamson, whose team improved to 4-0 (5-0 counting the preseason win at Vilonia). “I thought today was all about our energy on day three of a tournament. We played real well (Friday in a 57-53 win over Maumelle) and we didn’t want to have a letdown. I thought we started off real well with that.

“We’re up 18-4 and I thought we started playing the scoreboard and taking a break and relaxing instead of keeping that energy up,” he allowed. “I was upset with that but I thought they responded well after halftime, coming back with that energy.”

Bryant forced turnovers on the first two CAC possessions in the second half. The first miscue was cashed in by Cambron, who drained a 12-foot jumper. After the second, Tyler Simmons drained a 3 to push the lead back to double figures.

The Mustangs rallied to get it back to 25-19 only to have the Hornets put together a 17-6 stretch with Giles contributing 8 of his points during the run. Rayburn made a steal that led to a three-point play with 1:59 left in the quarter and, after Holland answered, Rainey popped a short jumper off a drive. Reed and Giles combined on a steal leading to a pair of free throws by Giles to make it 52-25 going into the fourth quarter.

The lead was 17 going into the final four minutes before Rayburn knocked down a triple. Giles netted a running jumper then made a steal that led to an offensive-rebound basket by Reed, which produced the game’s largest lead of 24 points with 2:38 left to play.

The Hornets will compete in another tournament starting Monday. They’ll open the Wampus Cat Invitational in Conway against the North Pulaski Falcons at 7:30 p.m.

HORNETS 53, MUSTANGS 31

Score by quarters 

BRYANT 9 11 22 11 — 53

CAC 4 7 12 6 — 31

HORNETS (4-0) 53

Player fg-fga ft-fta reb fls pts

o-d-t

Rainey 3-8 0-0 0-2 2 0 6

Hill 5-9 4-6 0-3 3 0 15

Simmons 1-3 0-0 0-1 1 4 3

Giles 3-7 4-4 1-3 4 2 10

Cambron 3-5 0-0 1-3 4 2 6

Rayburn 3-5 0-1 2-2 4 1 7

Reed 1-3 0-2 2-5 7 3 2

Davis 2-3 0-0 1-2 3 1 4

Hall 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 1 0

Crosby 0-2 0-0 0-0 0 0 0

Team 1-1 2

Totals 21-45 8-13 8-22 30 14 53

MUSTANGS (2-4) 31

Player fg-fga ft-fta reb fls pts

o-d-t

Stafford 2-13 4-4 1-2 3 0 9

Barnes 0-2 0-0 2-1 3 2 0

Kidd 0-0 0-0 0-2 2 0 0

Flanigan 2-5 0-0 2-7 9 2 4

Holland 4-6 4-7 2-2 4 3 12

Strange 0-4 1-2 3-2 5 1 1

Laney 0-3 0-0 0-0 0 2 0

Sherrill 2-6 0-0 0-1 1 2 4

Honormand 0-0 1-2 0-1 1 0 1

Leonard 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0

Evans 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0

Rosenzweig 0-1 0-0 0-1 1 0 0

Terry 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0

Team 1-2 3

Totals 10-40 10-15 11-21 32 12 31

Three-point field goals: Bryant 3-16 (Hill 1-3, Simmons 1-3, Rayburn 1-2, Rainey 0-3, Giles 0-2, Crosby 0-2, Davis 0-1), Central Arkansas Christian 1-13 (Stafford 1-6, Laney 0-3, Sherrill 0-2, Barnes 0-1, Rosenzweig 0-1). Turnovers: Bryant 14, Central Arkansas Christian 24. Technical foul: Bryant coach Abrahamson. 


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