Lady Hornets ease past Lady Panthers
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
On most successful basketball teams, the players know their rolls, how best they can contribute to the team. Not everyone has to be a big scorer but it’s extremely valuable if there’s a scoring threat at every position. It prevents the opposition from double-teaming, makes them play a more conventional defense.
At one time or another, the Bryant Lady Hornets have shown offensive punch at four of their five positions this season. Obviously, the top threats are forwards Bree Mann and Jennifer Slack. Sophomore center Yousra Elhagemoussa has shown a knack around the basket and can’t be left unguarded and junior swing player Jeanne Randall has shown she can hit the open jumper and take it to the hoop. Plus, the Lady Hornets have had players come off the bench — particularly senior Jamie Stephens, junior Haley Stobaugh and sophomore Dani Sutton — to provide some outside shooting. And Starr Crow has come off the bench to scrap for rebounds and putbacks.
At point guard, however, Rachel Blakley has hesitated to shoot much of the season. She’s contributed with defense and ballhandling and she’s been invaluable at that, pressuring the other team’s point guard and hustling for loose balls.
And it’s not been that Blakley can’t shoot. She’s got a nice shot but it seemed that when she missed one or two early, she’d stop looking as if she’d lost confidence, choosing rather to set up a teammate. Admirably unselfish, Blakley has been nothing if not a team player.
On Friday, Jan. 25, against the Benton Lady Panthers, Blakley proved — to herself, perhaps? — that she could indeed provide a scoring threat, scoring 9 points in the first half to help the Lady Hornets build a comfortable 35-13 lead on the way to a 57-24 victory.
The win improved the Lady Hornets to 17-3 on the season, 6-1 in conference play.
The Lady Panthers came into the game struggling through a 3-14 season (which became 3-15) season. But the Lady Hornets were reminded that Benton was not having much more success a season ago when they jumped up and upset the admittedly injury-riddled Lady Hornets, who were tied for first in the AAAAA-South at the time.
Friday, the Lady Hornets were determined not to let history repeat itself. After Benton got the first basket of the game, the Lady Hornets put together a 21-5 blitz from which the Lady Panthers never recovered.
Slack finished with 15 with Mann and Blakley adding 9 each, all in the first half.
Everyone got to play from both teams and 12 different Bryant players added to the scoring as the Lady Hornets buried their rivals.
The opening surge was sparked by the Bryant defense, as has often been the case. When Slack set up defensively and absorbed a charge on Amber Ashley’s drive to the basket, it got things going.
Mann fed Slack who nailed a 12-foot jumper to tie the game at 2. The Lady Hornets forced a turnover and Slack, off another dish from Mann, was fouled. She converted two free throws to give her team the lead for good.
Another Benton turnover led to Blakley’s first hoop, a 15-foot jumper from the wing. Stephens followed with a steal and Mann scored off a spinning move in the paint to make it 8-2.
A Benton timeout failed to slow the Lady Hornets down. Mann hit a layup off a feed from Stephens. Ashley managed a basket but Slack answered by working the offensive boards.
Jodie Scott scored for Benton but Blakley buried a 3 and the Lady Hornets were off and running again. Before the quarter was through, Randall and Crow added free throws. It was 17-7 going into the second period.
Elhagemoussa crashed the offensive glass for a bucket to start the second and, after a Benton miss, Slack found Mann open for a layup. It was 21-7.
Benton, which had no one score more than Sharlee Crowson’s 7 points, interrupted with a baseline jumper by Kristin Gattis but Slack answered with a 3 and Mann scored after snaring an offensive rebound.
In the final three minutes of the half, Randall connected twice from the baseline, Blakley canned another jumper and drove for a layup as the lead ballooned to 22 by the break.
Slack started the second-half scoring with a hoop off a baseline drive then Stephens connected from outside to stretch the margin further.
It was 45-18 by the end of the period and the reserves were in the game. Stobaugh and Sutton each hit a 3 in the late going. When Sutton hit with 2:40 to go, the Lady Hornets had their largest lead at 55-22. Megan Kennedy, Lindsey Stone and Leanne Robideaux added to the onslaught along the way.