CONWAY — The Bryant Lady Hornets held the Searcy Lady Lions scoreless over the last two minutes and surged to a 54-51 win to cap off the Bank of the Ozarks John Stanton Wampus Cat Invitational Tournament at Buzz Bolding Arena on Saturday.
Jakeria Otey made two short jumpers on either side of a steal and free throw by Maddie Baxter as the Lady Hornets overcame a 51-49 deficit for their second win in three games at the tournament. Their lone loss was 58-57 on a last-second free throw to Little Rock Hall which was playing in the tourney championship game late Saturday against Greenwood.
It had been a frustrating second half for Otey, who kept getting penetration against the Searcy zone for pull-up jumpers. After hitting her second shot of the half inside the first minute of the third quarter, she missed her next seven. But as head coach Brad Matthews instructed, she kept after it and made her last two, both in the clutch.
The senior all-State player finished with 15 points. Raija Todd added 11 and Lauren Carroll 10. Emily Ridgell provided some big baskets down the stretch. She scored all 9 of her points in the second half.
KeKe Broadway led Searcy with 16 points but just 5 in the second half. Tori Sanders added 10.
“It’s a good win against a good team,” said Matthews. “Searcy’s been really good over the last two or three years. The Broadway kid is really good, really quick, explosive with her scoring. She hurt us in transition.
“We got hurt in transition today,” he noted. “We’ve got to correct that because we’ve got some teams coming up on our schedule really good in transition. We’ve got to be good in transition together as a team. Not just one on one.”
The teams traded runs in the game. The Lady Hornets finished one early in the fourth quarter when sophomore Kendal Rogers grabbed a defensive rebound and went coast-to-coast for a layup that gave her team a 47-41 lead.
But, as they had the whole game, Searcy took its turn with an 8-0 run capped by post Allie Brown with 3:25 to go.
With the Lady Hornets needing a basket desperately, Ridgell canned a jumper down the baseline to tie the game at 49 with 3:11 left.
The teams traded misses before Searcy’s Arabriaun Mack scored off an offensive rebound with 2:10 left to put her team back in front.
But the Lady Lions didn’t score the rest of the game. Otey penetrated into the paint and drained an 8-footer to knot it up again at the 1:50 mark then Baxter came through with a steal, driving to the other end and nearly getting an and-one chance. Her shot rolled off the rim but she got a trip to the free throw line and made one, giving Bryant the lead with 1:26 showing.
Mack got a chance to answer when she was fouled after grabbing the rebound off the missed free throw. But she missed the front end.
In a flurry, the Lady Hornets rebounded but Searcy forced a held ball to regain possession. That proved to be key moments later. Mack missed and the carom when out of bounds off Bryant hands. Brown couldn’t get a shot to go and the Lady Hornets came back the other way. Otey drove and scored to make it a 3-point advantage with 41 seconds to go.
Carroll came up with a steal but the Lady Hornets missed twice at the other end. But on the rebound off the second shot, Bryant forced a held ball and, with :17.8 left, retained possession. Matthews called a timeout and pointed out to his players that Searcy had committed just three team fouls in the second half. If they took care of the ball, the Lady Hornets could run down the clock as Searcy tried to get to seven fouls to put Bryant in the bonus.
And that’s what happened. It took until there was just :06.3 on the clock for Searcy to commit enough fouls to get to the bonus. Even though Todd missed the front end, the Lady Hornets put up a light press and Searcy couldn’t get a last shot.
“Once again, two or three minutes to go, the game’s in doubt and we found a way to make enough plays down the stretch,” Matthews said. “We got a few rebounds. I thought we did a better job rebounding there in the last two, three, four minutes of the game than we had been overall.
“We’ve still got to go back and work on blocking out, securing rebounds,” he added. “We’ve got to keep working, build on these wins and get ready for a very talented Watson Chapel team on Tuesday.”
Chapel’s Lady Wildcats visit Bryant this Tuesday as the Lady Hornets, now 4-4, wrap up their pre-Christmas schedule.
After Bryant led 4-0 on baskets by Carroll and Rachel Miller, Searcy built an 11-6 lead in the first quarter. But a basket by Todd off a drive and two free throws by Carroll cut it to a 1-point game going into the second period. Todd added a basket on a pull-up jay to start the new quarter, giving Bryant the lead.
The game was tied at 13 and 15. Baxter snapped the second tie with a free throw, Todd made a steal and Otey drained a 3 to put Bryant up 19-15. Otey followed with a steal but a turnover led to a new surge by Searcy spurred by a 3-pointer by Kayla Churchwell.
The Lady Lions built the margin to 24-19, moving Matthews to call a timeout. When play resumed, it was Bryant’s turn. Otey and Broadway traded free throws then the Lady Hornets’ surge commenced. Otey hit a short jumper in the lane off a penetration move. Carroll made a steal and fed Destiny Martin for a layup.
After a Searcy timeout, Sanders misfired and Carroll scored off a drive to make it 29-26 Bryant with :49 left in the third quarter. But free throws by Churchwell and a stickback by Mack to beat the buzzer had the Lady Lions back up 30-29 at the half.
The teams traded baskets early in the third quarter. Bryant had a 35-34 lead when Broadway drove for a basket. Sanders hit two free throws then Mack scored inside and suddenly the Lady Lions were up 40-35 with 1:50 left in the period.
With Otey and Carroll getting a breather, Ridgell stepped up, sparking a 12-1 blitz with a 3-pointer from the right corner. Searcy missed twice and Mack came up with an offensive rebound only to have Todd steal the ball from her and, moments later, the freshman guard buried a 3 to put the Lady Hornets on top 41-40.
After Searcy’s Adria Sanders missed on a 3-point try, Ridgell drove for a basket with :25 left. Broadway made a free throw at :17.1 but the Lady Hornets worked for the last shot and Ridgell nailed an 18-footer to make it 45-41 going into the fourth quarter.
Tori Sanders missed Searcy’s first shot of the second half leading to Rogers dash from end to end to make the lead 6. Mack hit a 15-footer to start the Lady Lions’ final hot streak and Bryant’s decisive answer.
LADY HORNETS 54, LADY LIONS 51
Score by quarters
Searcy 11 19 11 10 — 51
BRYANT 10 19 16 9 — 54
LADY LIONS 51
Broadway 4-11 8-10 16, T.Sanders 3-7 4-4 10, Churchwell 2-2 0-0 5, A.Sanders 1-11 2-2 4, Riggan 0-1 0-0 0, Mack 4-10 0-1 8, Brown 3-9 2-2 8, Burton 0-0 0-0 0. Totals: 17-51 (33%) 16-19 (84%) 51
LADY HORNETS 54
Otey 6-19 2-2 15, Carroll 3-8 4-6 10, Baxter 0-3 3-6 3, Todd 5-11 0-3 11, Miller 1-1 0-0 2, Ridgell 4-7 0-0 9, Rogers 1-1 0-0 2, Martin 1-3 0-0 2, McDowell 0-1 0-0 0, Patton 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 21-54 (39%) 9-17 (53%) 54.
Three-point field goals: Bryant 3-10 (Otey 1-3, Todd 1-3, Ridgell 1-1, Baxter 0-1, Martin 0-1, McDowell 0-1), Searcy 1-7 (Churchwell 1-1, T.Sanders 0-2, A.Sanders 0-2, Brown 0-2). Turnovers: Bryant 14, Searcy 20. Rebounds (o-d t): Bryant 9-18 27 (Carroll 2-4 6, Otey 1-3 4, Todd 1-3 4, Martin 2-2 4, Ridgell 1-1 2, Rogers 0-2 2, Baxter 0-1 1, Miller 0-1 1, McDowell 0-1 1, team 2-0 2), Searcy 18-26 44 (Mack 4-9 13, A.Sanders 6-5 11, T.Sanders 0-5 5, Brown 3-2 5, Churchwell 0-2 2, Broadway 0-1 1, Riggan 1-0 1, team 4-2 6). Team fouls: Bryant 16, Searcy 16. Fouled out: Searcy, Brown.