Lady Hornets top Lady Wolves with defense, rebounds
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 Lady Hornets didn’t have one of their better nights shooting the basketball Tuesday against the Lake Hamilton Lady Wolves. But, instead of getting frustrated, throwing up their hands and curbing their attempts, they dug in and just produced more chances by dominating the boards and ratcheting up the defense and forcing more turnovers.
Both elements were key factors as the Lady Hornets hustled to a 43-29 win over the Lady Wolves to improve to 2-0 in the AAAAA-South Conference and 9-3 overall. Along with the other results in the league on Tuesday, it left the AAAAA-South standings with an old-school look: Bryant and Pine Bluff atop the heap.
The Lady Hornets travel to El Dorado on Friday with a bit of unfinished business to attend to. The Lady Wildcats edged out Bryant 50-48 earlier this season for the championship of the Central Arkansas Christian Invitational Tournament.
Lake Hamilton had similar motivation against Bryant on Tuesday, however. In the CAC semifinals, the Lady Hornets ousted the Lady Wolves 53-39. And they kept the re-match close for awhile thanks to Bryant’s shooting woes. Even then, Bryant’s hard work on the boards produced two or three sometimes four shots on every offensive trip.
Lake Hamilton’s zone left holes for the Lady Hornets to get open 3-point shots all evening, so most of the misses were from long range. Still, they connected five times and, more often than not, the many misses were fodder for offensive rebounds for Bree Mann, Kim Jacuzzi, Jennifer Slack and the rest of the Lady Hornets inside players.
On the strength of a 3-pointer by Candice Croy, the Lady Hornets held a 7-6 lead at the end of the first quarter. The Lady Wolves managed a 10-7 lead early in the second period before Mann grabbed an offensive rebound, scored and was fouled with 5:45 left. Her basket cut the lead to 1 but she misfired on the free throw. Moments later, though, sophomore Amber Stephenson collected the carom off a teammate’s miss, scored and drew a foul. Stephenson completed the three-point play to give Bryant a 12-10 lead.
Lake Hamilton’s Katie McLean hit a driving jumper to tie it but when Slack answered in kind at the other end, Bryant was ahead to stay. Croy drilled her second 3 and, after a free throw by Lake Hamilton’s Katie Mattingly, Slack stepped out and bombed in a trey as the Lady Hornets began to pull away.
Slack, who led Bryant with 10 points, hit a short jumper off another drive then Rachel Blakley canned a 15-foot jay and, suddenly, Bryant led 24-13.
The Lady Wolves’ Shara Ashtiani interrupted by hitting a jumper from the wing but, in the final seconds, Bryant’s Starr Crow pulled down an offensive rebound and was fouled on a follow shot. She converted both free throws and Bryant had a 26-15 lead at the half.
That was the start of a 23-3 blitz by the Lady Hornets that blew the game open.
The Lady Hornets continued the run early in the second half by continuing to give themselves plenty of opportunities. They took every opportunity to trap on defense particularly when Lake Hamilton managed to get a defensive rebound. They used the baseline as a third defender and produced a number of held-ball situations.
Mann started the second half scoring with a jumper in the lane then Robideaux and Croy flushed back-to-back 3’s. Slack made a steal that led to a trip to the free-throw line for Robideaux. A free throw later, Bryant had a 20-point lead, 35-15.
It was still 20 late in the game when Bryant head coach Carla Crowder started to clear her bench. Lake Hamilton kept full-court pressure on and forced a few turnovers in the final two minutes to cut into the margin at the end but the outcome was never in doubt.
Croy finished with 9 points, Mann had 8 for Bryant. Mattingly led Lake Hamilton with 11, McLean had 8.