Hornets ride defense to lopsided win over Har-Ber

Rodney Lambert drives the baseline. (Photo courtesy of Paul Dotson)

Photos courtesy of Paul Dotson

CONWAY — After almost shooting 60 percent from the field in a 74-52 win over Rogers Heritage on the first day of the Bank OZK/John Stanton Classic at Buzz Bolding Arena, the Bryant Hornets shot less than 40 percent from the field on the second day. But their defense was tremendous, forcing 26 turnovers, and behind 20 points from Treylon Payne, the Hornets drubbed an over-matched Springdale Har-Ber Wildcats team, 59-29, on Saturday in the Century 21 Legacy Real Estate Challenge, the final game of the two-day event.

“It would’ve really been nice if we could’ve shot the ball a little bit better,” said Hornets head coach Mike Abrahamson. “We had six 3’s. Yesterday, we hit 12. I thought we were taking good shots. It was just not very pretty offensively because of that. If we had hit maybe eight or nine, it would’ve felt a little bit different in terms of the aesthetics of it all.”

Camren Hunter looks for room to drive around Har-Ber’s Nick Buchanan. (Photo courtesy of Paul Dotson)

Khalen Robinson finished with 12 points and nine rebounds while Catrell Wallace finished with 9 points and 10 boards to go with three blocks.

Nine difference Bryant players contributed to the scoring and everyone got to play including the debut of junior O.J. Newburn who has been recovering from a broken finger.

Har-Ber was paced by center Jacob Howard with 14 points. No one else had more than Brennan Gibson’s 6 as the Wildcats shot 30 percent from the field.

Khalen Robinson (Photo courtesy of Paul Dotson)

And the Hornets were so quick, attacking the basket and defending, they only committed nine fouls in the game while Har-Ber fouled 18 times.

“The defense was there,” Abrahamson acknowledged. “And, offensively, even though we were shooting the ball well, we were finding other ways to put some points on the board — offensive rebounds, get to the free-throw line. But it was like there was a lid on the basket at times. It was like we were about to break it wide open and we just couldn’t quite get there so it was a slow pull-away instead of a quick.”

Late in the contest, the Hornets established a 30-point lead and the mercy-rule kicked in with a running clock as Abrahamson worked in his reserves.

“There were a lot of positives from the game,” he stated. “I told our team — no disrespect — but, with that defensive effort, we would’ve been able to play well against really good teams. (Har-Ber) is struggling right now. But they’ll get it together and they’ll get better.”

A.J. Jenkins eyes a free throw. (Photo courtesy of Paul Dotson)

The game concluded the Hornets’ pre-Christmas schedule. They’ll make their annual trip to the Coke Classic in Fort Smith before New Year’s, opening against Charleston at the University of Arkansas-Fort Smith’s Stubblefield Center on Thursday, Dec. 27, at 4:10 p.m.

“Now we get a week of practice where we don’t have games, that we need,” Abrahamson commented. “We need to work on our presses. We need to add some depth still. We’re trying to add depth and we’re doing it just a little bit just because football’s over and a couple of guys are getting healthy. We’ve just got to keep trying to develop and improve. We’re nowhere near where I think we can be. That’s what we’ve got to keep working toward.”

Part of the reason that the Hornets may not have shot the ball as well was the fact that they came out of the locker room repeatedly as Conway and West Memphis played a multiple overtime game right before them before the Wampus Cats prevailed 100-95. At the end, the Hornets were sitting in the bleachers awaiting the end of the contest.

Traylon Payne recoils after being hit on a shot in the lane. (Photo courtesy of Paul Dotson)

Har-Ber actually held a couple of leads early. Howard had the game’s first basket and, after Rodney Lambert hit a free throw to get the Hornets on the board, Khalen Robinson buried a 3 to make it 4-2. A 3 by the Wildcats’ point guard Nick Buchanan put his team up 5-4 but Payne proceeded to score the next 8 points including a pair of triples and Har-Ber never led again.

It was 12-5 when Howard scored again with 21 seconds left in the first quarter. Payne, making it an 11-point first quarter for him, canned another 3 at the buzzer to make it 15-7 going into the second period.

A layup by Lambert and a three-point play off the offensive glass by Wallace made it 20-7. Robinson added a pair of free throws to push the margin to 15.

Khasen Robinson (Photo courtesy of Paul Dotson)

Bryant had closed the half on a 9-0 run. 

Midway through the second period, the Wildcats had cut the difference to 10. Payne revved it up again with a pair of free throws and his fourth 3-pointer of the half. Robinson made a steal and hit a layup then A.J. Jenkins did the same to make it 32-13.

Free throws by Lambert and Robinson early in the third quarter extended that surge to 11-0 and produced the Hornets’ first 20-point lead.

Jenkins hit two free throws then, after Gibson scored for Har-Ber, Robinson added two free throws and a basket off a drive to the rack, Aidan Adams hit a baseline floater and Payne finished his night with a layup to make it 56-25 with 4:10 to play.

It was 38-19 before Robinson fed Wallace for a bucket then Camren Hunter hit the offensive boards for a bucket that pushed it out to a 23-point lead.

Going into the fourth quarter, the Hornets held a 46-24 advantage.

Austin Schroeder (Photo courtesy of Paul Dotson)

Score by quarters

BRYANT           15        17        14        13 — 59

Har-Ber           7          6          11        5 — 29

HORNETS (6-3) 59

Payne 6-14 4-5 20, Kl.Robinson 3-13 5-6 12, Lambert 1-4 2-4 4, A.Jenkins 1-3 2-2 4, Wallace 4-6 1-1 9, Hunter 1-2 1-2 3, Ks.Robinson 0-4 0-0 0, Hall 0-0 0-0 0, Washington 0-0 0-0 0, Adams 1-3 0-0 2, Montgomery 1-1 0-0 2, West 1-1 0-0 3, Schroeder 0-1 0-0 0, Hefley 0-0 0-0 0, Newburn 0-0 0-0 0. Totals19-52 (37%) 15-20 (75%) 59.

WILDCATS (2-5) 29

Buchanan 2-9 0-0 5, Bowen 0-4 0-0 0, L.Jenkins 1-7 0-0 2, Pieroni 0-2 0-0 0, Howard 6-11 2-5 14, Bishop 1-4 0-0 2, Bockelman0-2 0-0 0, Woodard 0-0 0-0 0, Gibson 3-3 0-0 6, Oliger 0-2 0-0 0. Totals13-44 (30%) 2-5 (40%) 29.


Three-point field goals:Bryant 6-24 (Payne 4-9, K.Robinson 1-6, West 1-1, Ks.Robinson 0-2, Adams 0-2, A.Jenkins 0-1, Schroeder 0-1), Springdale Har-Ber 1-12 (Buchanan 1-5, L.Jenkins 0-2, Bishop 0-2, Pieroni 0-1, Bockelman 0-1, Oliger 0-1). Turnovers:Bryant 12, Springdale Har-Ber 26. Rebounds:Bryant 16-21 37 (Wallace 4-6 10, Kl.Robinson 2-7 9, Lambert 2-3 5, West 1-3 4, Hunter 2-0 2, Hall 1-1 2, Payne 0-1 1, Jenkins 1-0 1, Adams 1-0 1, Montgomery 1-0 1, team 1-0 1), Springdale Har-Ber 12-19 31 (L.Jenkins 1-5 6, Howard 4-2 6, Buchanan 0-5 5, Bockelman 1-2 3, Gibson 1-1, 2, Pieroni 1-0 1, Woodard 0-1 1, Oliger 1-0 1, team 3-3 6). Team fouls: Bryant 9, Springdale Har-Ber 18. 

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