Hornets blast Zebras
EDITOR’S NOTE: Because the look back at each day in Bryant athletic history has been so favorably received during the time when there was no sports during the COVID-19 shutdown, BryantDaily.com will continueposting past stories of Bryant athletics either posted on BryantDaily.com (from 2009 to the present) or published in the Bryant Times (from 1998 to 2008).
By ROB PATRICK
The Bryant Hornets were not too happy about their performance against the Texarkana Razorbacks Tuesday. A road game they felt they should’ve won got away, 60-50.
So, it was with a renewed intensity that they took the floor at home Friday night against the Pine Bluff Zebras, who came into the game riding a three-game winning streak that had them a game off the pace in the AAAAA-South Conference.
The Zebras never knew what him them.
In perhaps their finest performance of the season, the Hornets blitzed the Zebras 80-54 to even their league mark at 2-2 going into their trip to Camden Fairview Tuesday.
Tad Beene scored a career-high 30 points including a whopping 23 in the first half to lead the Hornets. Matt Brown added 14 points and Jared Thomas 13. Matt Thornton pitched in with 7 and Josh Elrod, in a late spree off the bench, contributed 6.
The Hornets sliced through the Pine Bluff press while frustrating the Zebras with a press of their own and a quick-shifting halfcourt match-up zone.
Pine Bluff was ice cold from the field. The Zebras tried to burn the Hornet zone by gunning 3’s on the wings, mostly by Henry Wilkins, Clifford Flowers and Michael Pridgeon. For the game, they were 5-of-27. Wilkins wound up with a team-high 15 points, Flowers with 14.
Point guard Kelly Scarver tried to break down the zone with penetration moves, dishing to Antoine Reynolds or Antoine Sims but he was often caught with nowhere to go with the ball.
The Hornets, meanwhile, shot a lot of layups. With Thomas and Nathan James controlling the boards, Beene, Brown and, at times, Thornton were able to leak out early to beat the Zebras’ press before it could even get set up.
And here’s how bad it got for the Zebras: At the end, they held the ball, ran out the clock so the Hornets wouldn’t make it any worse.
The game opened with a layup by Thomas off a nice inside feed from James. The Hornets jumped into their 3/4 court trap and surprised the Zebras. Brown made a steal that led to a 3-pointer by Beene.
Pine Bluff missed three chances to get on the board before Thornton’s driving layup made it 7-0.
A free throw by Wilkins and a 3-pointer by Quincy Pridgeon cut the margin but the Hornets responded with a 12-0 run that began with a short jumper by Thomas and included four fastbreak baskets by Beene, three of which were set up off feeds from Brown.
Wilkins ended a drought of almost four minutes for Pine Bluff with a 3-pointer at the :15 mark but Beene trumped that with a trey at the other end just before the buzzer to put the Hornets ahead 22-7.
Bryant’s lead was never less than 10 after that.
The Zebras put together a bit of a run to start the second period. When Flowers scored with 4:50 left in the half, it was 24-14. But Brown knocked down a 3 to stem the tide.
Scarver hit a layup off a steal moments later but Beene countered with a pair of free throws and, after a couple of Zebra misses, his second trey of the game to bump the margin to 32-16, the largest of the game to that point.
Beene, who was 9 of 10 at the line — part of a 24-for-33 effort on free throws by the Hornets — hit four more before the half was through, helping to maintain the large margin. It was 40-24 at the half thanks to a last-second goal-tending call against the Zebras which gave Jeremy Reeves a basket.
The two teams traded baskets for much of the third quarter. It was 50-34 before Brown fed Thornton for a bucket and, moments later, Thornton grabbed an offensive rebound and stuck it back in for the first 20-point margin of the contest.
Before the quarter was over Beene added a pair of free throws to make it 56-34.
The Zebras converted just 11 of 22 at the free throw line in the game and their struggles there prevented them from putting together more of a threat early in the fourth quarter.
As it was, they were only able to trim 6 points off the lead before Bryant managed its first points of the period. A three-point play by Thomas got the Hornets back on the track.
The lead was 23 when Bryant head coach Leo Olberts began to filter in his bench. It was 71-49 when the last of the starters, Brown, went to the bench.
Scott Yant came off the bench cold with 2:20 left to hit a free throw when Jermaine Smith had to come out with a cut.
Elrod’s spree began with a free throw with 2:08 left when he was fouled on a drive to the hoop at the point of a fastbreak. Wilkins hit Pine Bluff’s final basket with 1:58 left, one last 3. But the Hornets got the break going again and Ben Olberts fed Elrod for a layup on which he was fouled. Elrod completed the three-point play to make it 76-54.
Yant added a layup off a steal and, after a Pine Bluff miss, Elrod leaked out for another layup to set the final score with 1:09 left.
The Zebras held the ball for the final minute to keep it 80-54.