GREENWOOD — After back-to-back losses, particularly the last one in which they saw a 16-point second-half lead melt away, the Bryant Hornets were determined to wash that bad taste out of their proverbial mouths when they traveled to Greenwood Friday night.
Actually, it probably didn’t matter who they played, they were going to get after it to get back on track. It’s been a rugged year for Greenwood’s Bulldogs and it didn’t get any better as the Hornets accomplished their mission with a 71-43 victory.
“We wanted to be on a mission,” allowed Bryant head coach Mike Abrahamson. :I wanted to see how our kids were going to be. And they were.”
“I liked their mentality tonight,” he added. “And I don’t say that too often. It wasn’t perfect. It wasn’t for 32 minutes but it was more than it usually is. When I felt them slipping out of that mentality, I challenged them to get back in it and they did. I was pleased with that.”
It was all the more important that the Hornets snapped their brief skid at Greenwood because they now face two much more important foes, 7A rivals in the mixed Central Conference. Little Rock Catholic visits Bryant on Tuesday then the Hornets have a showdown in Van Buren on Friday.
Kevin Hunt snapped out of a minor scoring slump with 17 points against the Bulldogs. Braylon Steen added 15 and Lowell Washington 10 as 11 different Hornets contributed to the scoring.
But it was on the defensive end, primarily, that Abrahamson saw the approach of his players that he wanted to see.
“We started off the game in half-court man and I think we should’ve stayed with it,” he related. “”I kind of smelled the blood in the water and went for the presses and it did extend our lead. But then coming out in the second half, it extended real quick then it shrunk back down. We went back to half-court man and extended it back out.
“I’m excited we did well without pressing the whole game,” he continued. “Our best defense was when we weren’t pressing them. It was just really good solid man-to-man defense, sticking to the principals that we’ve practiced a lot. I was encouraged to see that.
“And we were aggressive on the offensive end,” the coach noted.
Aggresseive as in a 14-2 start to the game. Hunt fed Steen for the first bucket, an eight-foot jumper from the baseline. Calvin Allen added a free throw then, after the third consecutive Greenwood turnover to start the game, Allen popped a 3 to make it 6-0.
Greenwood’s 6-6 senior Dustin Lunsford drove for a basket but a 3 by Detavious Moore trumped that. Hunt made a steal a little later and wound up at the line where he converted twice. Jordan Walker came in off the bench and pumped in a triple to cap the opening salvo.
The Bulldogs got back to 16-9 by the end of the quarter and when Blaise Loman hit a free throw to start the second, the lead was down to 6. But Hunt drained a 3. Zane Harmon scored for Greenwood but a free throw by Romen Martin and a bucket inside by Washington off a nice feed from Steen pushed the lead back to 10.
Loman added another free throw but Hunt buried another triple and Washington scored inside off a sparkling pass from Allen, making it 27-13 with 3:58 left in the half.
Devin Gilbert scored for the Bulldogs and Bryant missed but Allen made a steal and, though his shot was blocked as he drove to the rim, Washington rebounded and scored as he was fouled. He missed the free throw but Martin scrambled for the carom and slipped a pass to Steen who scored from 12 feet out.
A Martin steal led to Allen’s dish to Garrett Cowart for a 3. Moments later, Loman came up short on a dunk attempt. Washington rebounded and was fouled by the frustrated Loman. With :48.7 left in the half, Washington converted both ends of the one-and-one and Bryant’s lead had reached 21.
It was 36-17 going into the half.
The teams traded baskets for much of the third quarter with Steen scoring the first 6 points for Bryant, with two buckets coming off the offensive glass.
With 4:23 on the clock, Allen drove for a layup, Hunt made a steal and added a free throw to make it 45-23.
Greenwood gamely rallied and, with Chase Sanders scoring 12 of his team-high 14 points in the quarter, trimmed the Bryant lead to 48-35 going into the final period.
That’s when Abrahamson called the Hornets’ press off and they went back to the half-court man. Walker drilled a deep 3 to start the fourth. Hunt made another steal and Moore popped a triple. And when Hunt drove for a layup, the Bryant advantage was back to 21, 56-35.
Loman interrupted with a free throw but Allen fed Steen who was fouled and converted twice at the line then Hunt worked a nice give-and-go with Walker for a basket, extending the margin to 24.
Down the stretch, Steen and Martin added free throws. Washington scored and Hunt made one more theft that he cashed in with a dunk.
Reserves played the last two minutes with Deron Canada added a free throw and Rickie Allen drove for a layup to set the final score, which was the largest lead of the game for the Hornets.
HORNETS 71, BULLDOGS 43
Score by quarters
BRYANT. 16. 20. 12. 23 — 71
Greenwood. 9. 8. 18. 8 — 43
HORNETS (16-5, 6-2, 3-0) 71
C.Allen 2-8 1-2 6, Hunt 5-14 5-6 17, Steen 5-9 5-6 15, Washington 4-7 2-3 10, Moore 2-4 0-0 6, Moody 0-1 0-0 0, Martin 0-5 3-4 3, Walker 2-4 0-0 6, Sahr 1-4 0-0 2, Cowart 1-2 0-0 3, McIntosh 0-2 0-0 0, Chumley 0-0 0-0 0, R.Allen 1-1 0-0 2, Turner 0-0 0-0 0, Canada 0-1 1-2 1. Totals 23-62 (37%) 17-23 (74%) 71.
BULLDOGS (3-16, 0-8, 0-3) 43
Armstrong 0-4 2-2 2, Harmon 2-7 2-2 7, Gilbert 1-2 2-2 4, Loman 2-9 3-6 7, Lunsford 2-5 0-0 4, Gold 1-6 2-2 5, Sanders 7-10 0-0 14, Stewart 0-0 0-0 0, Fowler 0-1 0-0 0, Barrett 0-0 0-0 0, Loveday 0-0 0-0 0, Panis 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 15-44 (35%) 11-14 (79%) 43.
Three-point field goals: Bryant 8-25 (Hunt 2-6, Moore 2-4, Walker 2-4, C.Allen 1-3, Cowart 1-2, Martin 0-4, Washington 0-1, McIntosh 0-1), Greenwood 2-11 (Gold 1-4, Harmon 1-3, Loman 0-2, Armstrong 0-1, Lunsford 0-1). Turnovers: Bryant 12, Greenwood 21. Rebounds: Bryant 20-21 41 (Hunt 3-5 8, Steen 4-4 8, Washington 4-3 7, C.Allen 1-2 3, Moody 1-1 2, Walker 0-2 2, Cowart 1-1 2, Canada 1-1 2, Martin 1-0 1, Sahr 1-0 1, McInsosh 0-1 1, team 3-1 4), Greenwood 9-23 32 (Loman 5-4 9, Sanders 2-4 6, Armstrong 1-3 4, Harmon 0-3 3, Gilbert 0-3 3, Lunsford 1-2 3, Gold 0-1 1, Loveday 0-1 1, Panis 0-1 1, team 0-1 1). Team fouls: Bryant 13, Greenwood 17. Fouled out: Lunsford.