Hornets respond to Hot Springs comeback, nail down 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).
CONWAY — With four of their five starters on the bench with two fouls, the Bryant Hornets lineup of seniors Cedarrian Crosby (the lone starter not in foul trouble) and Caleb Strain, junior Ketrick Wilson and freshmen Desmond Duckworth and Romen Martin (with help from Wesley Peters not only maintained but actually increased the lead midway through the second quarter.
It was 35-19 before the Hot Springs Trojans switched to a trapping 1-3-1 zone. The Hornets struggled and the lead dwindled to 35-30 by halftime.
Then, even with the starters back in the third quarter, the Trojans rallied to eventually tie the game 45-45 with :55.8. The scoreboard, however, showed that Hot Springs had taken a lead, 46-45. With the Hornets clinging to a 45-44 lead, the Trojans’ Kennedy Corder missed the first of two free throws and made the second. But he was credited with knocking down both shots.
Hot Springs had two shots at changing that score but in the final 10 seconds of the quarter, Bryant seniors Grayson Giles and C.J. Rainey came through. Giles canned a jumper in traffic as he was fouled with :07.8 showing. He missed the free throw but seconds later Rainey was fouled on a drive to the hoop and converted twice to make it 49-46 going into the fourth quarter.
That 4-0 spurt expanded to a 10-1 surge when Rainey fed Crosby for a basket and Kevin Hunt assisted on a 12-foot jumper by Strain. After a free throw by Hot Springs’ Ja’Quan Counts, Strain added a pair from the line to make it 55-47.
Bryant went on to earn a 64-59 victory to advance to the consolation finals of the Bank of the Ozarks John Stanton Wampus Cat Invitational. The Hornets will return to Buzz Bolding Arena on Saturday at 2:30 p.m., to wrap up the tourney against Jacksonville.
Bryant head coach Mike Abrahamson lauded his reserves for coming through and increasing the lead in the first half.
“But when they went to a 1-3-1, some of our inexperienced guys panicked a little bit and didn’t run the offense the way they should have,” he related. “Their 1-3-1 gave us some problems. That lead shrunk but we withstood it.
“I can’t say that our experienced players did a whole lot better against the 1-3-1 in the second half but we were able to get a few layups to get us going, get in there, get fouled and make some free throws then get enough stops — that was a good 1-3-1,” the coach said. “We just did enough to kind of withstand it.”
Rainey finished with 19 points to lead all scorers. Crosby added 11, Strain 9, Giles 7. Martin and Hunt, a sophomore who made his first varsity start, finished with 6 each. Duckworth had 5 and Wilson 1.
Conway was led by talented sophomore Trey Lenox, who had 17 points. Darnell Underwood came in off the bench to add 17. Clarence Floyd and Jeremy Blackmon added 9 each.
“At times, it probably looked like we were trying to give the game away at the end,” Abrahamson commented. “We turned it over and made some mistakes. But we need that experience. That’s going to be a good experience to grow from. To watch that on film and to say, ‘Hey, you panicked right here and let’s not do that next time. Let’s do this, next time.’
“You’ve got to learn through this experience,” he continued. “You’re not going to do it right the first time. Hopefully, we’ll do it better next time. And instead of having to eke it out, we grow that lead from 6 to 12 and win by 12 or 15. But, right now, that’s not us. It’s ugly but that’s fine. We’ll take it.”
The two teams combined to shoot 54 free throws. The Trojans had three of their starters with two fouls and the half and two off the bench with a pair apiece. Three players fouled out. Bryant’s Ricky Buchanan who took a couple of charges at key moments, and Hot Springs’ Counts and Floyd.
“We’ve got to keep trying to find a way to adjust to the officiating this year,” Abrahamson mentioned. “I’m not saying the officiating is bad. I’m just saying they’re calling stuff they didn’t used to call, which is fine. We’ve got to find a way to adjust and we’re really struggling to do that, trying also to play the style we need to play.
“We’re going to keep trying but it puts us in a bind and it put us in a big bind tonight,” he concluded.
With the Trojans chasing at the end, the Hornets converted 9 of 12 from the line in the final six minutes. They wound up 23 of 32 from the stripe. Hot Springs was 15 of 22.
Bryant got out to a fast start, scoring 25 points in the first quarter. Hunt actually opened up both halves with 3-pointers.
Hot Springs managed a 4-3 lead but two free throws by Crosby, who 6 of his points in the opening period, put the Hornets up and they didn’t trail the rest of the half. Giles made a steal and a layup. After Crosby absorbed a charge, Rainey followed his own miss to make it 9-4.
Anthony Goffigan scored inside for Hot Springs but Bryant closed the quarter with a 16-6 stretch. Crosby scored off a drive, a spin and a jump shot and, after Lenox converted twice at the line, Duckworth hit a floater then combined with Crosby to force a turnover that led to two free throws for Martin, who grabbed an offensive rebound.
Underwood hit a free throw but then the Trojans were cited for goal-tending on a shot by Rainey to make it 17-9. Counts connected on a 3 but free throws by Crosby, a steal and three-point play by Rainey and his buzzer-beating triple had Bryant ahead 25-12 going into the second quarter.
A minute into that second period, however, Rainey, Giles, Buchanan and Hunt were on the bench with two fouls. Duckworth and Wilson each hit free throws then Floyd and Duckworth traded buckets. Floyd’s three-point play cut the lead to 29-19 but Duckworth drove and kicked to Strain in the corner for an open 3. More free throws, this time from Martin and Crosby, pushed the lead to its apex, 35-19.
The 1-3-1 trap fueled the Trojans’ 11-0 run to end the half. And when Jeremy Blackmon scored inside to start the fourth quarter, the lead was just 35-32.
But that’s when Hunt buried his second trey as Bryant maintained the lead
It was 45-41 going into the final 2:30 of the third. Underwood hit a reverse layup off a Bryant turnover and free throws from Lenox and Corder put Hot Springs up by 1, though it should’ve been even.
The Hornets’ fourth-quarter free throws were knocked down by Rainey, Strain, Crosby and Giles. With the lead 59-53, Buchanan took a charge to wipe a basket by Goffigan. Rainey hit two mmore free throws and the Hornets had their largest lead of the fourth quarter, 61-53.
HORNETS 64, TROJANS 59
Score by quarters
Hot Springs 12 18 16 13 — 59
BRYANT 25 10 14 15 — 64
HOT SPRINGS 59
Player fg-fga ft-fta reb fls pts
Christon 1-5 0-0 0-2 2 4 2
Lenox 6-10 5-8 0-3 3 2 17
Floyd 4-8 1-1 2-3 5 5 9
Goffigan 1-1 0-1 0-1 1 4 2
Blackmon 3-4 3-4 1-1 2 1 9
Underwood 3-6 3-5 1-2 3 2 10
Counts 1-2 1-1 0-1 1 5 4
Corder 0-2 2-2 1-0 1 3 2
Moss 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0
Tate 2-7 0-0 4-1 5 0 4
Hampton 0-2 0-0 1-0 1 1 0
Jones 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0
Smith 0-0 0-0 0-1 1 1 0
Team 3-3 6
Totals 21-46 15-22 13-18 31 28 59
Player fg-fga ft-fta reb fls pts
Rainey 6-13 6-7 1-2 3 2 19
Hunt 2-2 0-0 1-3 4 3 6
Giles 2-4 3-5 0-3 3 3 7
Buchanan 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 5 0
Crosby 2-4 7-10 0-4 4 0 11
Martin 1-3 3-4 3-0 3 2 6
Duckworth 2-4 1-2 0-0 0 3 5
Strain 3-6 2-2 1-3 4 3 9
Wilson 0-1 1-2 1-2 3 0 1
Peters 0-1 0-0 0-0 0 1 0
Team 1-0 1
Totals 18-38 23-32 8-17 25 22 64
Three-point field goals: Bryant 5-16 (Hunt 2-2, Rainey 1-3, Strain 1-3, Martin 1-2, Duckworth 0-2, Giles 0-2, Crosby 0-1, Peters 0-1), Hot Springs 2-9 (Underwood 1-3, Counts 1-1, Lenox 0-2, Floyd 0-1, Christon 0-1, Tate 0-1). Turnovers: Bryant 16, Hot Springs 17.