VAN BUREN — As hot as the Bryant Hornets were in the first half, they were cold in the second.
And thus, the lead they enjoyed at halftime over the Van Buren Pointers in their splendid Clair Banks Arena, disappeared. With a basket to end the third quarter then three unanswered 3-pointers to start the fourth, the Pointers surged past the Hornets on the way to a 46-39 win that avenged a loss at Bryant earlier in the season.
It was another in a series of gut-punch losses for the Hornets who dropped to 7-14 overall and 1-8 in the 7A-Central Conference. Van Buren improved to 15-7 and 4-4.
The Hornets had scorched the nets in the first half, hitting 11 of their 15 shots from the floor (73 percent) including 7 of 8 from 3-point range. The result was a 29-21 lead at the half which concluded with a scintillating steal and slam by senior Tim Floyd.
In the second half, however, the Hornets converted just 2 of 16 shots from the field. Both makes were 3-pointers, so they went the entire second half without a 2-point basket. Granted, Van Buren's impressive front line included a 6-9 player, Marshall Parker, who gave way to 6-10 Hooper Vint when he came out of the game, plus forwards Brooks White (6-4) and Aaron Owen (6-3), made it tough for the Hornets to get anything inside and even tougher to rebound. The Pointers finished with a 22-15 advantage on the boards despite the Hornets' hot hand in the first half which didn't leave many rebounds to gather.
But because of their disadvantage in size, when the Hornets cooled off they were mostly getting the same number of shots (usually one per trip).[more]
"I thought that Van Buren guarded us a little harder," said Bryant head coach Mark Smith regarding the difference in the two halves. "Too, we weren't as patient offensively as we were in the first half. In the first half, we got kind of what we wanted. In the second half, I thought we missed a couple of people cutting to the basket, we rushed some shots and the shots that we rushed were not as good a looks as we wanted. Of course, we didn't get much in the paint and some of that was our fault but some of it was good defense and size by them. It's hard to combat size, especially in the post.
"But we had a golden opportunity," he added. "Van Buren didn't really come out and play that well in the third quarter either. If we'd have made any type of a run in the third quarter, I think they were probably ready to quit. But give them credit, they ran some good stuff on offense, knocked down some shots, chipped away at it and when they took the lead, it gave them new life. And it kind of took the wind out of our sails."
In fact, the Hornets established their largest lead of the game in the third quarter. Van Buren had trimmed the lead to 29-25 but Floyd drilled a 3 and, later, added a pair of free throws as Van Buren commenced to struggle offensively. With 2:43 left in the third quarter, Bryant led 34-25.
But a 3-pointer by Aaron Owen sparked the Pointers to what turned out to be a 16-0 run. The 6-10 Hooper Vint added an offensive-rebound basket that trimmed the lead to 34-30 going into the final minute of the third quarter. Floyd had a chance at a 3 but was short as it appeared he found himself further away from the hoop than he thought.
And when the fourth quarter started, Floyd got the same look and missed again though this time it appeared that a Van Buren defender had hit his wrist on the shot. But there was no foul.
"They weren't what we really wanted," Smith said. "We want Timmy shooting the ball but we want him shooting the ball in the right spot and the right timing. And those shots were contested. But we missed some closer shots than that in the second half too."
Kendal Butzlaff and Brandon Parish combined to force a Van Buren turnover to give the Hornets another chance to extend their lead but a turnover prevented it and Van Buren's Tyler Spoon buried a 3 which was followed in rapid succession by a pair of 3's from White. And when White made a steal and layup, the Pointers had a 41-34 lead with 5:36 left.
To their credit, the Hornets battled back. K-Ron Larry drove in among the Van Buren trees and was fouled. His free throws ended a dryspell that had lasted over five minutes of the game.
Parish made a steal and Larry popped a 3-pointer, trimming the lead to 41-39 with 3:58 still to go. But that was the last of Bryant's scoring in the game. th
The Hornets had a chance to tie it after Vint was called for an offensive foul as he and Floyd battled for position inside. It came moments after Floyd was called for a foul despite the fact that Vint had thrown him to the ground when they got their arms locked up.
Dontay Renuard couldn't get his shot to go, however, and, with 3:15 left, Van Buren spread the floor, trying to drain the clock, force Bryant to foul or get an easy hoop. It appeared they might get the latter when the ball went to Owen into the post. He made spin move but ran into Floyd who had set up there defensively.
The Hornets had another chance to tie it or take the lead and Parish got an open look from the right corner but it rimmed out.
Van Buren worked the clock down to 1:20 and called timeout and the Hornets started fouling. The Pointers, who had attempted just four free throws in the game up that point, converted 5 of 7 in the final 1:01 to extend the margin.
In the first half, Renuard snapped a 2-2 with a 3-pointer and the Hornets took the lead they held until early in the fourth quarter. Floyd ripped a trey, Larry added one and Bryce Whitfield came off the bench to bury another. And when Larry flushed his second triple of the quarter with :43 left, the Hornets had a 19-13 lead.
Renuard took a nice feed from Larry for a layup off a backdoor cut to start the scoring in the second period then White and Parish traded 3's. Van Buren closed the gap to 24-21 but Larry knocked down his third troika of the half and Floyd put an exclamation point on the half with his dunk to make it an 8-point game.
White led all scorers with 15 points. Larry had 13 and Floyd 12 for the Hornets who were set to host Russellville on Tuesday, Feb. 10.
VAN BUREN 46, BRYANT 39
Score by quarters
BRYANT 19 10 5 5 — 39
Van Buren 13 8 9 16 — 46
HORNETS (7-14, 1-8) 39
Player fg-fga ft-fta reb. fls. pts.
Larry 4-7 2-3 0-1 1 3 13
Parish 1-3 0-0 0-3 3 1 3
Butzlaff 0-1 0-2 1-2 3 2 0
Floyd 4-8 2-2 0-4 4 3 12
Renuard 2-8 0-0 0-0 0 3 5
Whitfield 2-3 0-0 0-0 0 1 6
Stitch 0-1 0-0 0-0 0 0 0
Team rebs. 2-1 3
Totals 13-30 4-7 3-12 15 13 39
VAN BUREN (15-7, 4-4) 46
Player fg-fga ft-fta reb fls. pts.
Ostrander 1-3 0-0 2-3 5 1 3
Spoon 1-5 0-0 0-2 2 0 3
Owen 3-6 0-0 2-3 5 3 8
White 5-7 1-2 0-2 2 3 15
Parker 2-6 4-4 1-0 1 0 8
Montgomery 2-2 4-4 0-2 2 1 8
Vint 1-2 0-0 2-3 5 2 2
Schwartz 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0
Team rebs. 0-4 4
Totals 15-31 9-12 5-17 22 10 46
Three-point field goals: Bryant 9-15 (Larry 3-5, Floyd 2-4, Whitfield 2-3, Parish 1-2, Renuard 1-1), Van Buren 7-14 (White 4-6, Owen 2-4, Spoon 1-3, Ostrander 0-1). Turnovers: Bryant 11, Van Buren 10.