Lady Hornets fend off Fillies
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
As the game went along, it was easy to see that the Bryant Lady Hornets kept gaining confidence. The Pine Bluff Fillies tried a press, tried to crash the boards, tried to bomb from 3-point range but the Lady Hornets never relinquished the lead they took with a 3-pointer from Jasmine Carter to start the game. Bryant maintained its way to a 50-41 victory, their first in the young 7A-Central Conference schedule.
“I think that’s a big key; confidence is a huge thing,” acknowledged the Lady Hornets’ first-year head coach Blake Condley. “I feel like their confidence in themselves and in each other and in what we’re trying to do together as a team — they’re really starting to buy into what we need to do together for us to be successful.”
Carter continued her scoring clip in recent games with 12 points but unlike the previous game, a loss at Mount St. Mary’s Academy, this time she had lots of help. Brittany Mills stepped up with 17 points including four 3-pointers in five tries and sophomore Anna Simpson added 13. Down the stretch, Mills and senior guard Brittany Grant converted key free throws after Pine Bluff managed to rally within 4 points.
“Jas is becoming consistent,” Condley noted. “I think we can count on her to get us double-digit scoring. We just need some other girls to be there and they were tonight.
“Defensively, I thought we played pretty well,” he added. “The first half we gave up some offensive rebounds that hurt us. We talked about it at halftime, the girls made the adjustment and we came out with a win.”
Pine Bluff had seven offensive boards in the first half, only three in the second. The Lady Hornets wound up out-rebounding the Fillies 29-25, led by Mills’ six.
Bryant forced 19 turnovers while committing 23 but, despite that and the press, the Lady Hornets never seemed to loose their cool. The panic that had plagued them earlier this season never showed.
“I think we’re getting there,” Condley said. “We’re trying to turn the pressure up in practice, trying to do some things to simulate it but it’s tough to simulate some of the speed. We’re trying to do some things just to get some traps and double teams for us to learn to handle, to get out of that without making a turnover. The girls are picking it up. They’re getting better at it. I thought we did a good job with it tonight.”
Bryant established a lead in the first quarter. A 7-5 edge held for over three minutes with both teams struggling with turnovers. But Carter hit a layup with :23 left to give her team a 9-5 advantage going into the second period.
Mills then connected on her first two triples and, suddenly, the lead was 10. Pine Bluff’s Sharnice Reed answered with a 3 but, a few minutes later, Simpson got behind the Fillies’ press for a layup and a 17-8 advantage.
Reed answered and Keanna Wright added a free throw to get Pine Bluff back within 6. But the Fillies couldn’t get any closer despite a pair of opportunities. With 1:25 left in the half, Simpson hit a pair of free throws to get Bryant back on track and, after a turnover, Caitlin Cato drove the lane and kicked the ball back outside to Carter for an open 3 that made it 22-11.
Bryant’s Lindsey Cason took a charge at the defensive end and Carter cashed in with a jumper in the lane that gave the Lady Hornets a 24-11 bulge.
Cheree Freeman, who finished with 16 points, buried a 3 but a running jumper by Cato beat the buzzer and Bryant led by 12 at intermission.
Pine Bluff added a free throw to start the third quarter and had a chance to get closer but Mills made a steal and drove for a layup. Tyler Pittman answered inside for the Fillies but Mills trumped that with a 3 that gave the Lady Hornets their largest lead of the game at 31-17 with 6:01 left in the period.
Pine Bluff rallied with a 12-0 run to get within 2 but when Simpson drove the lane for a bucket in the final minute of the quarter, Bryant had a 33-29 advantage going into the final eight minutes.
And Simpson’ three-point play to start the fourth proved vital to turning the tide back Bryant’s way. Freeman and Mills traded 3’s. Freeman tried another and missed. At the other end, Amber Westbrook was fouled on a drive into the lane. Her free throws bumped it back to 41-32.
Freeman hit a 3 then made a steal and a layup to get the Fillies within 41-37 with 3:17 to go but Mills fed Simpson for a layup and, after Reed hit a jumper with 2:44 left to play, Pine Bluff managed just one more bucket the rest of the way. The Lady Hornets spread the floor and the Fillies, who had fouled just four times, had to commit three just to get Bryant into the bonus. Before that, however, Mills found Grant behind the defense for an easy 2 that made it 45-39.
In turn, Brittany Gatewood missed a 3-point try for Pine Bluff and, with :39.3 to play, the Fillies finally got Bryant into the bonus. Grant missed the first one-and-one but the Lady Hornets forced a turnover and, with :27.4 left, Mills canned a pair. At the other end, Carter blocked a shot by Gatewood and the ricochet went out of bounds off the Fillies’ player.
Grant was fouled with :15.5 to go and converted twice to make it a 10-point lead again.
Reed finally snapped Pine Bluff’s drought with :09 left but Mills hit a free throw after that to set the final score.