For more photos of this event by Rick Nation, go here
LITTLE ROCK — Whether it was the start time of noon and the fact that it was Saturday or a lack of respect for a Little Rock Southwest Lady Gryphons team came in with a record of 5-13, 2-10 in the 6A-Central Conference; or, maybe, it was just the after-effects of an emotional 36-31 win at Cabot the night before.
But the Bryant Lady Hornets were not as sharp when they took on Southwest. Still, they survived with a 35-27 win that marked the halfway point of their six-games-in-10-days finish to the regular season.
That continues on Monday at Mount St. Mary Academy then, on Tuesday, a rematch at home against Southwest.
The Lady Hornets are making a bid to earn a 4 seed for the Class 6A State Tournament in Fayetteville, which starts on Tuesday, March 9. The win over Southwest officially secured their trip to State and improved their chances to finish at least fifth.
“As enjoyable as last night was, this one not so much,” allowed Lady Hornets head coach Brad Matthews. “We struggled offensively, let them have some offensive rebounds.
“You know, Cabot came over here and roughly the same game happened,” he mentioned. “North Little Rock came over here and roughly the same game happened. North Little Rock and Cabot was like a carbon copy of our game. One team would get up 12 or 14 and then Southwest would cut it back down to single digits. It’d go back up to 10 or 12 and they’d cut back to 4 or 5.
“They’re athletic,” the coach said of the Lady Gryphons. “They play really aggressive, and we didn’t execute. When you play teams like that, you’ve got to execute and make good decisions. And we didn’t do that enough then we didn’t shoot it well.
“But,” he asserted, “we found a way to win. That’s important this time of year. Trying to get in the State tournament is really important. We found a way to win even though we didn’t shoot it very well and were a little flat.
“And you can’t ask much more, play Friday and Saturday, practice Sunday then come back and play Monday and Tuesday.”
Of course, no team looks as good when they’re not hitting shots. Bryant wound up hitting 26 percent from the field and Southwest finished at 21 percent.
It didn’t help that the officials for the game seemed reluctant to prolong the contest by calling a lot of fouls. They let them play. Bryant was 2 of 5 from the line. Southwest was 5 of 10.
So, there were lots of rebounds to be had. Thanks in large part to a great effort on the boards in the fourth quarter by Emileigh Muse, the Lady Hornets actually wound up with a 40-33 rebounding edge. Muse had eight of her 11 rebounds down the stretch.
Southwest’s Nariah Samuels hauled down 13 caroms in the game.
The difference in the game, however, was the second quarter when the Lady Hornets dialed it in and hit 6 of 8 from the floor including all five of their 3-point attempts. That turned a 7-6 lead to start the second into a 25-11 halftime advantage.
Freshman point guard Brilynn Findley hit two of her four triples in the stanza on the way to a game-high 15 points. Junior Parris Atkins, still favoring the ankle she turned Friday night, also canned a pair of 3’s in the quarter, part of her 11 points in the game. Muse hit the other trey.
That helped Bryant finish 7 of 23 from 3-point range. Southwest kept jacking them but missing, going 2 of 19 from beyond the arc. That contributed to their 11 offensive rebounds.
Asia Yarbrough, in off the bench, led the Lady Gryphons with 10 points. Takyra Miles, who hit both of the team’s 3’s, finished with 7.
Southwest led 3-0 and 6-5 in the first quarter. A layup off a steal by Lauren Lain in the closing moments of the period gave Bryant the lead going into the second.
Miles hit a free throw then A’Dreanna Green and Taya Bridgewater had back-to-back buckets to put Southwest back up 11-9.
But Atkins answered with consecutive 3’s, Bryant was ahead to stay. After Bridgewater’s basket with around six minutes left in the half, the Lady Gryphons did not score again until just over a minute into the third quarter.
Atkins added a free throw then Findley took a dish from Muse and canned a 3. In turn, Muse and Findley added 3’s to extend the lead to 14 at the break.
Atkins hit a 12-footer to start the second half, giving Bryant it’s largest lead at 27-11.
But the pesky Lady Gryphons wouldn’t go away. A 7-0 run had the margin down to 9 before a three-point play by Findley had the Lady Hornets ahead 30-18 going into the fourth.
Findley opened the final period with her fourth triple but then the Lady Hornets only scored 2 more points the rest of the game. That basket came on a steal and layup by Atkins with 2:52 left.
In between, Yarbrough scored 6 points and Bridgewater added a free throw to get Southwest within 33-25. It got no closer as the Lady Hornets held on to improve to 11-9 overall this season.
LADY HORNETS 35, LADY GRYPHONS 27
Score by quarters
BRYANT 7 18 5 5 — 35
LR Southwest 6 5 7 9 — 27
LADY HORNETS (11-9, 4-7) 35
Lain 3-10 0-0 6, Atkins 4-13 1-2 11, Edmonson 0-7 0-0 0, Findley 5-9 1-1 15, Muse 1-7 0-0 3, Jordan 0-1 0-0 0, Taylor 0-0 0-2 0. Totals 12-47 (26%) 2-5 (40%) 35.
LADY GRYPHONS (5-14, 2-11) 27
Miles 2-11 1-3 7, Nak.Samuels 0-1 0-0 0, Nar.Samuels 2-10 1-2 5, Bridgewater 1-12 1-2 3, Thomas 0-2 0-0 0, Green 1-4 0-0 2, Yarbrough 4-4 2-3 10, Crisp 0-5 0-0 0. Totals 10-49 (21%) 5-10 (50%) 27.
Three-point field goals: Findley 4-6, Atkins 2-5, Muse 1-5, Edmonson 0-6, Jordan 0-1), LR Southwest 2-19 (Miles 2-8, Bridgewater 0-7, Green 0-3, Nar.Samuels 0-1). Turnovers: Bryant 22, LR Southwest 19. Rebounds: Bryant 14-26 40 (Muse 4-7 11, Atkins 2-6 8, Lain 1-5 6, Edmonson 2-4 6, Taylor 2-0 2, Findley 0-1 1, Jordan 1-0 1, team 2-3 5), LR Southwest 11-21 33 (Nar.Samuela 5-8 13, Yarbrough 3-3 6, Thomas 0-3 3, Bridgewater 0-3 3, Green 2-0 2, Miles 1-0 1, Nak.Samuels 0-1 1, Crisp 0-1 1, team 0-2 2). Team fouls:Bryant 9, LR Southwest 9.