Beene, Hornets bounce back to bust 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
CABOT — It was shocking enough that the Bryant Hornets only scored 34 points and lost (37-34) to the Arkadelphia Badgers last week. No one scored in double figures for the Hornets and senior guard Tad Beene, one of the team’s top scorers all season, didn’t scratch at all.
So, it was with some purpose that Beene and the Hornets took the floor against the Cabot Panthers Tuesday in their final non-conference contest of the season.
Beene will be just fine for conference. And so will the Hornets.
Behind Beene’s 21 points, the Hornets surged past the Panthers 55-46 to notch their 10th win in 13 decisions this season.
The team had been struggling offensively of late but pulled out of it by burning Cabot’s match-up zone.
“Our shot selection was better,” commented Hornets head coach Leo Olberts. “We showed more patience and when we had the opportunity, we did a better job of pushing the ball up the court and attacking the basket.”
To go with Beene’s 21, Jared Thomas and Matt Brown each tossed in 10. Matt Thornton had 7.
Again, however, Bryant’s defense — mostly man-to-man against Cabot — that made the difference. Shane Hutcheson scored 14 points in the first half for the Panthers including a trio of 3-point bombs that pushed them into the lead midway through the second quarter. But Hutcheson, dogged by Brown or Thornton for the most part, was held scoreless in the second half.
The game stayed tight until the Hornets put together a 12-0 run in the fourth quarter, holding Cabot scoreless for over four minutes while a 39-39 game turned into a 51-39 Bryant lead.
Beene helped get that run started with a nice feed into the post to Thomas who hit a turnaround jumper to snap the tie. Moments later, Brown grabbed a long rebound off a missed 3 by Hutcheson, and pushed it up the floor for a layup.
The Hornets forced a turnover and got the fastbreak fired up again. Beene finished with a layup that made it 45-39.
A steal by Beene led to a trip to the free-throw line and two more points plus a Cabot timeout.
That began a stretch that continued to the end of the game in which all of Bryant’s points came at the line and it proved to be a much more productive parade than the Hornets put together at Arkadelphia. After hitting just 9-of-17 against the Badgers, the Hornets knocked down 23-of-36 at the line against Cabot. That included an 11-for-16 performance in the final period.
The Hornets were thus able to maintain a double-digit lead, holding off a late rally by the Panthers. It was 55-43 before Cabot’s Brian Staggs finished off the scoring with a 3-pointer in the closing moments.
Neither team had produced more than a six-point lead in the first three quarters. Bryant led 8-4 thanks to a conventional three-point play by Thomas and, after Tommy Williams scored for Cabot, a 3-pointer by Beene.
Later in the opening period, it was tied at 9 before Brown drove for a layup and Thornton dropped in a pair of free throws to put the Hornets up by 4 going into the second quarter.
Cabot drilled four of its seven 3-pointers in the second quarter including the barrage by Hutcheson who scored 12 of his team’s 15 points in the period. The game was tied at 14 when Thornton canned a nice running jumper off a drive into the lane with 4:14 left in the half. Hutcheson, showing deep range, answered by hitting his first 3 to give Cabot its first lead.
After a Bryant miss, Hutcheson struck again to make it 20-16, forcing a Bryant timeout.
A driving basket by Nathan James interrupted Hutcheson’s blitz but another 3 and, later, a free throw by Hutcheson produced the Panthers’ largest lead of the game at 24-18.
But, in the final 30 seconds of the half, the Hornets came through to stay close. James stepped up big with a basket as he was fouled. He missed a chance at a three-point play but Thomas rebounded the missed free throw and was fouled on a follow attempt with :24 left. He sank both of his from the line and the Hornets were suddenly back within two, 24-22, at the break.
A basket by Thomas and free throws by Brown and Beene pushed the Hornets into the lead early in the third quarter. Cabot responded and the lead seesawed the rest of the period with the Panthers managing a 37-36 lead going into the fourth on the strength of two late free throws by Matt Malham.
Thornton tied it with a free throw to start the scoring in the fourth quarter. He added a layup off the break following a Malham miss to make it 39-37. Cabot knotted it on a basket by Greg Martens but then it seemed that all the work the Panthers had had to do to get open shots against Bryant’s tough man-to-man caught up with them. Their patient pass-screen-cut attack all evening appeared to take a toll on their legs and the jump shots, including a rain of 3-pointers, began to find iron instead of cord.
Bryant took advantage to take control of the game.
The Hornets return to AAAAA-South Conference action this Friday at home against the Sheridan Yellow Jackets.