NORTH LITTLE ROCK — In a lot of ways, the old-fashioned three-point play is better than a long-range 3. You not only score three points, but you add to your opponents’ foul total, one in particularly and the team in general. And it’s frustrating for the other team because, more often than not, you got into the teeth of their defense to get your points.
On Saturday, when the Bryant Hornets were tangling with the Pulaski Robinson Senators to open the 2019-20 season at North Little Rock’s Hoopin’ For Hoodies, junior Camren Hunter came through with four of what the players call an ‘and-one,’ in the final 3:30 of regulation and in overtime on his way to 28 points and 11 rebounds.
Hunter scored 12 of Bryant’s 13 points in overtime after missing a shot at the buzzer in regulation that would’ve won it. In the end, however, he led the Hornets to a 70-63 win.
The Hornets led most of the game with their biggest lead at 12 with 5:19 left in the third quarter. But foul trouble, pressure defense and some hot shooting from the three-point arc allowed the Senators to rally. By the end of the third quarter, they led 39-38 then built a lead of as much as 5, 49-44, with just under four minutes left in the game.
“That was quite a swing,” acknowledged Hornets head coach Mike Abrahamson. “To be down in the fourth and just press, press, make crazy things happen. The guys kept playing hard even though some of them were slumping offensively.
“That’s what I’m proud of,” he asserted. “Obviously, we want to play better. We turned the ball over too much, missed a bunch of free throws, let them get too many 3’s. It was a key for us not to give up too many 3’s. But that’s easier said than done.
“But what I was proud of was adversity was thrown in our face all day long and they continued to respond all day long. They just kept responding. In overtime, the guys just kind of took off with it. Cam really stepped up.”
Hunter also did a good job defensively of denying Robinson’s Mekhi Perkins who finished with 23 points including four 3’s in the second half. Perkins hit a 3 with 1:45 left in regulation to put his team up 54-53 but he not only didn’t score the rest of the game but hardly touched it.”
Hunter put the Hornets back on top with a bucket inside as he was fouled. Though he missed the free throw.
Treylon Payne, back after recovering from a foot injury, made a steal and fed Khasen Robinson for a layup to extend the lead and, after another Robinson turnover, senior A.J. Jenkins was fouled. Usually golden on the line, Jenkins also missed from the stripe with :46.4 to go.
That left it 57-54 so when the Senators’ Christian Cross knocked down a 3 with :28 showing, it tied the game.
Both teams suffered turnovers after that before Hunter got a chance to win it from the elbow and the shot rimmed out.
“To be up and have a chance to seal it at the line and miss two with our senior guard who you think is going to make at least one to put it to four. That’s tough, another form of adversity,” Abrahamson mentioned.
But the defending State runner-up, though not completely the same team, found a way to win, perhaps in large part because they just know how to get that done.
“I hope so,” Abrahamson said. “We’ve got enough guys that know how but we still need — you know guys are in new roles and guys are being counted on to do more than they were last year, even though we have some returners, they’re in new roles, new burdens to carry, so to speak.
“It’s a work in progress to get there,” he added. “You don’t just pick up where you left off.”
Hunter started the scoring in the overtime with a three-point play. After a Robinson turnover against the Bryant press, he added two more free throws. Another Senator turnover led to another three-point play by Hunter and a 65-57 lead. Payne made another steal and Hunter hit a layup to push the lead to 10 with 2:00 left.
Robinson called timeout and, when play resumed, Mike Hill got to the line off an offensive rebound. His free throw with 1:43 left was the first points for his team in the extra period.
Khasen Robinson countered at the line for Bryant and, after Jaydan Bush followed up for the Senators, Hunter beat the press for a layup to make it 10-point game again.
Bush hit a 3 at the buzzer to set the final score.
Khasen Robison scored 13 points off the bench for the Hornets including three of their four 3-point buckets. Jenkins finished with 12 points and Payne had 7.
At the start of the game, the Hornets were down 5-2 but went on a 9-0 run that was capped by a tip-in from Payne.
The Senators’ 6-7 post Donovan Young, who was held to 7 points in the game, interrupted the run but Hunter hit two free throws after following his own miss and Robinson fed Jenkins for a layup to make it 15-7 at the first break.
The Hornets maintained the lead through the second period. Two free throws by Jenkins with 1:20 left had them up 27-20 but Perkins hit a layup to make it a 5-point game at half.
Perkins added two free throws to trim the margin to 3 early in the third but Robinson canned a triple and Jenkins had back-to-back baskets. Hunter posted up to score and it was a 12-point game.
The Senators, however, closed the third quarter with a 15-2 run, gaining the lead going into the fourth. Three’s from Perkins and Cross helped build the 47-42 lead before the Hornets rallied, starting with a drive to bucket by Jenkins.
Bryant returns to action on Thursday, Thanksgiving Day, at 3:30 p.m., against Tri Cities, Tenn., at the Rumble on the Ridge regional tournament in Forrest City.
HORNETS 70, SENATORS 63, OT
Score by quarters
Pulaski Robinson 7 15 17 18 6 — 63
BRYANT 15 12 11 19 13 — 70
SENATORS (1-3) 63
Perkins 7-15 5-6 23, Cross 7-10 2-2 20, Tolerson 1-2 0-0 2, Gastman 1-3 0-0 2, Young 2-9 0-2 4, Bush 3-11 0-0 7, King 0-0 0-0 0, Hill 0-0 1-2 1, Bozeman 1-3 2-2 4. Totals 22-53 (42%) 10-14 (71%) 63.
HORNETS (1-0) 70
Hunter 10-19 8-10 28, Payne 3-7 1-1 7, Jenkins 5-10 2-4 12, Adams 1-3 0-0 3, Brunson 1-2 1-3 3, Robinson 4-7 2-4 13, L.Newburn 0-1 0-0 0, West 1-1 0-0 2, O.Newburn 0-0 0-0 0, Montgomery 1-3 0-0 2. Totals 26-44 (59%) 14-22 (64%) 70.
Three-point field goals: Bryant 4-16 (Robinson 3-5, Adams 1-3, Hunter 0-2, Payne 0-2, Jenkins 0-2, L.Newburn 0-1, Montgomery 0-1), Pulaski Robinson 9-16 (Perkins 4-7, Cross 4-6, Bush 1-3). Turnovers:Bryant 21, Pulaski Robinson 25. Rebounds: Bryant 13-16 19 (Hunter 4-7 11, Payne 3-2 5, Brunson 1-3 4, Jenkins 1-2 3, Robinson 1-2 3, team 3-0 3), Pulaski Robinson 14-21 35 (Young 2-8 10, Perkins 2-3 5, Bozeman 3-1 4, Gastman 2-2 4, Bush 2-1 3, Hill 1-1 2, Cross 1-0 1, Tolerson 0-1 1, team 1-4 5). Team fouls: Bryant 13, Pulaski Robinson 21. Fouled out: Pulaski Robinson, Gastman.