Hornets never get on track at Conway

CONWAY — If the Bryant Hornets were going to come a cropper, better now than next week.

On one of those nights in which every 50-50 ball went to Conway and just about every 50-50 call did too, the Hornets suffered their second worst loss of the 2015-16 basketball season on Tuesday night at Buzz Bolding Arena, 59-40, to the Wampus Cats, who were celebrating Senior Night.

There was a time when the Hornets were always the underdog playing Conway and they’d always get fired up when it came time to play the Cats. But, in recent years, that’s kind of flipped. Coming into Tuesday’s game, Bryant had won six of the last seven meetings since 2011 including the 62-52 victory for the Hornets on Jan. 26, a game that wasn’t that close most of the way.

So, this time, it appeared to be the underdog Wampus Cats who were stoked.

Still, if anybody had told Bryant head coach Mike Abrahamson that Conway’s Kendavious Smith, who entered the game as the leading scorer in Central Conference games in the league, would foul out midway through the fourth quarter without scoring a point, he probably would’ve liked his chances.

But Jamaal Clifton scored 19 points, Clay Bradshaw 16 and Tavis OBannon 10 to take up the slack.

Bryant had no one in double figures. Romen Martin finished with 9 points, Calvin Allen 7 and Kevin Hunt 6. The Hornets shot just 33 percent from the field (12 of 36) and seemed to have an inordinate number of shots rim out when they appeared to be true. Their total of 40 points was a season low.

The Hornets, now 19-7 overall, finish up the regular season with Senior Night on Friday against Siloam Springs. As a two seed out of the Central Conference (already set before Tuesday’s game with Conway) they’ll open the 7A State Tournament in Cabot on Thursday, March 3, at 2:30 p.m., against the sixth-seeded team from the West, which could still be any number of teams. It would be Fort Smith Southside as of now but that could change with one more night of league games in the West.

The lone Bryant lead was 5-4. Hunt scored first with a driving jumper. After Clifton got started and Prentice Mullins made it 4-2, Allen made a steal and fed Martin for a 3.

But Conway scored the next 9 points and was never headed. The Cats were 6 of 12 from the field in each of the first three quarters and pulled away by adding 5 of 6 in the fourth. At 23 of 42 for the game, they shot 55 percent.

The Hornets were 4 of 19 from the field (21 percent) in the first half.

But the most frustrating thing for the Hornets was that the Cats out-rebounded them 21-7 in the first half and 31-16 for the game.

But Bryant was still in it throughout the first half. Martin fed Braylon Steen for a layout and Hunt hit two free throws to make it 14-9 going into the second quarter.

The Hornets were also buoyed by the fact that they took four charges in the game.

Obannon opened the second quarter with a 3 and Clifton added a basket. It wasn’t until the second quarter was three-minutes deep that Martin broke the ice for the Hornets, knocking down a pair of free throws. Allen followed with a 12-footer and the Hornets were within 19-13.

Clifton sparked the Cats to a 9-1 run that pushed the lead to 14 before Steen hit two free throws with :02.3 left in the half to make it 28-16.

But the lead would never be less than double-figures after intermission. Hunt drove for a basket to cut it to 10 initially. Conway’s Junior Williams answered then Bryant’s Lowell Washington contributed two free throws after a drive to make it 30-20.

The Hornets, trying to be more aggressive against the Conway zone, kept running into traffic inside and the Wampus Cats got tough in there. It was 37-20 before the Hornets could score again. Kaleb Turner hit a 3 from the corner but Bradshaw answered in kind. Two free throws by Martin and a layup by Allen after he and Turner forced a turnover, had the margin down to 40-27 but that was as close as Bryant could get the rest of the way.

Obannon and Mullins scored before the end of the third quarter, making it 44-27 then a three-point play by Bradshaw and two free throws by Clifton had the Cats rolling at 49-27.

The largest lead was 23 before 3-pointers by Sam Chumley and Rickie Allen cut to 18 with about a minute to go.

The Hornets’ worst loss this season was a 73-51 setback against J.A. Fair on Dec. 12. If they respond as well to this loss as they did to that one, they could get a run going at State. The loss to Fair was followed by nine wins in the next 10 games.

WAMPUS CATS 59, HORNETS 40

Score by quarters

BRYANT          9          7          11       13 — 40

Conway          14       14       16       15 — 59

HORNETS (19-7, 9-4, 4-2) 59

C.Allen 2-7 3-4 7, Hunt 2-6 2-2 6, Steen 2-5 0-2 4, Washington 0-1 2-2 2, Martin 2-10 4-4 9, Sahr 1-2 0-0 2, Walker 0-1 0-0 0, Chumley 1-1 0-0 3, Turner 1-1 0-0 3, Cowart 0-0 0-0 0, Moore 0-0 0-0 0, R.Allen 1-2 1-2 4. Totals 12-36 (33%) 12-16 (46%) 40.

WAMPUS CATS (13-12, 8-5, 3-3) 59

Mullins 2-5 0-1 4, Smith 0-0 0-0 0, C.Bradshaw 6-10 3-3 16, Williams 2-6 0-0 4, Clifton 7-9 5-6 19, Obannon 4-8 1-1 10, B.Bradshaw 1-2 0-0 2, Petrucelli 0-1 0-0 0, Ashby 0-0 1-2 1, Richards 0-0 1-2 1, Maull 1-1 0-0 2, Macon 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 23-42 (55%) 11-15 (73%) 59.

Three-point field goals: Bryant 4-12 (Martin 1-5, Chumley 1-1, Turner 1-1, R.Allen 1-2, C.Allen 0-2, Walker 0-1), Conway 2-11 (C.Bradshaw 1-4, Obannon 1-2, Mullins 0-2, Williams 0-2, Clifton 0-1). Turnovers: Bryant 11, Conway 12. Rebounds: Bryant 4-12 16 (Washington 1-2 3, Hunt 0-2 2, Steen 0-2 2, Martin 1-1 2, Moore 0-2 2, C.Allen 1-0 1, Sahr 0-1 1, team 1-2 3), Conway 9-22 31 (C.Bradshaw 1-7 8, Clifton 5-1 6, Mullins 0-4 4, Obannon 0-4 4, B.Bradshaw 1-3 4, Williams 0-2 2, Smith 1-0 1, Petrucelli 0-1 1, team 1-0 1). Team fouls: Bryant 15, Conway 17. Fouled out: Conway, Smith.

Leave a Reply