LITTLE ROCK — In a game that had been tied five times in just the second half, it was 40-40 with 3:25 left to play. Bryant’s senior point guard Tierra Trotter hit a pull-up jumper in the lane over bigger players with 3:02 left to give the Lady Hornets a lead over the Mount St. Mary Academy Belles at the McAulley Center Tuesday night.
With 2:29 left, Mount’s Libby Franks had a chance to tie it once again at the free throw line. She made her first shot but her second came off the iron. Trotter snuck inside and claimed the carom and headed the other way. Taking it all the way to the rack, she scored and was fouled.
After completing the three-point play, the Lady Hornets had a two-possession lead.
With 2:00 left, the Belles’ Katie Wilcox knocked down a 15-foot jumper to cut the margin to 2. But, at the other end, Trotter got free in the corner and banged a 3.
With 1:32 left, Mount took a timeout, trailing 48-43.
When play resumed, Bryant’s India Atkins made a steal and fed her younger sister Parris for a layup that made it a 7-point game.
To their credit, the Belles stayed close as Kaitlin Tarini hit a 3 but Trotter converted 5 of 8 free throws in the final minute to help secure a hard-earned 55-49 victory.
Trotter finished with 21 points in the game, including 13 in the fourth quarter.
“She made some plays,” said Lady Hornets head coach Brad Matthews of Trotter. “That three-point play then the 3-pointer from the corner.
Parris Atkins finished with 10 points. McKenzie Muse, Celena Martin and Lexie Taylor each added 6.
Muse also collected eight rebounds as the Lady Hornets out-boarded the Belles, despite Mount’s Catherine Althoff gathering in 14 to go with her 15 points.
“McKenzie rebounded the heck out of it,” Matthews said. “She’s been rebounding really well the last couple of weeks. With so many big people in our league, McKenzie has done a really great job. It takes away a little from her offense but she’s so team oriented. She’s really played well.
“Althoff is a great player,” he added. “She’s a college player. I am glad she’s graduating. She’s given me headaches for three years now. It’s time for somebody else to deal with her.”
The win improved the Lady Hornets to 5-4 in the 6A-Central Conference, 13-8 overall. Mount fell to 1-8 and 7-15.
“It’s the conference and a win on the road is really good for us,” said Matthews. “We’re so close to clinching a spot in the State tournament now and for the State tournament to be in our place . . .”
“I’m really happy for our kids,” he related. “It’s a tough environment, tough place to play. A lot of teams would’ve lost this game tonight and we found a way. That’s really good.”
The Lady Hornets started the game well. After a three-point play by Althoff, they went on a 10-0 run ignited by a score inside by Martin. Trotter took a kickout pass from Martin and connected from 3-point range to give Bryant its first lead, 5-3.
Off a Belles turnover, India Atkins fed Trotter for a second triple. Moments later, Parris Atkins’ offensive rebound led to a bucket and a 10-3 advantage.
Hagan Smith broke the Belles’ drought with a 3 but Muse scored consecutive baskets. Bryant led 16-8 going into the second quarter.
“We got off to a really good start,” Matthews acknowledged. “We played well in spurts. I thought our zone offense tonight was much, much, much better than it had been all year.”
Bryant led 20-14 midway through the second quarter but the Belles, led by Althoff whittled the margin down to 1.
Ivory Russ drove for a basket for Bryant but Smith’s second 3 tied the game at 22 at halftime.
“I thought Mount St. Mary’s really shot it well,” said Matthews. “They had really good ball movement.
“They did such a good job of handling our press,” he mentioned. “It came down to a half-court game for the most part, and we were able to win a half-court game on the road.”
Sixteen offensive rebounds helped with that.
The game was tied at 24 and 32 in the third quarter. An offensive-rebound basket by Althoff in the final seconds of the period gave the Belles’ a 34-32 lead going into the fourth.
The game was tied at 35 on a 3 by Taylor. Millie Allgood hit a free throw for to give Mount the lead. But Taylor buried another triple to put the Lady Hornets ahead again. Two free throws by Allgood after she secured an offensive rebound, resulted in a 38-38 game.
Free throws from Muse and Tarini had the score 40-40 before Trotter took over the game.
Trotter’s free throw with :31.7 to go had the Hornets up 51-46 but, at the other end, Tarini was fouled and, with the clock stopped, trimmed two from the advantage and it was a single-possession game.
Trotter countered with a free throw — but just one — with :29.2. That was enough to make it a two-possession game again.
But with Matthews yelling, “Don’t foul. Don’t foul,” in the acoustically challenged gym, the Lady Hornets fouled with :23.5 to go. Althoff, however, only converted one of her two free throws.
Martin rebounded the missed second shot and got the ball to Trotter, who was fouled with :21.2 to go. She connected on both, putting the game out of reach.
The Lady Hornets will be back in conference action this Friday when they host the Little Rock Central Lady Tigers.
LADY HORNETS 55, BELLES 49
Score by quarters
BRYANT 16 6 10 23 — 55
Mount. St Mary 8 14 12 15 — 49
HORNETS (13-8, 5-4) 55
Trotter 6-11 6-9 21, P.Atkins 4-11 1-2 10, I.Atkins 1-4 2-3 4, Martin 2-5 2-3 6, Muse 2-7 2-3 6, Russ 1-5 0-0 2, Taylor 2-7 0-0 6, Scifres 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 18-53 (34%) 13-20 (65%) 55.
BELLES (7-15, 1-8) 49
Smith 3-8 0-0 8, Tarini 2-8 4-4 10, Franks 2-3 2-3 6, Althoff 5-8 4-6 15, Allgood 0-2 4-5 4, Wilcox 3-7 0-0 6, Schdeider 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 15-36 (42%) 14-18 (78%) 49.
Three-point field goals: Bryant 6-20 (Trotter 3-7, Taylor 2-7, P.Atkins 1-3, Muse 0-2, I.Atkins 0-1), Mount St. Mary 5-16 (Tarini 2-8, Smith 2-4, Althoff 1-1, Wilcox 0-3). Turnovers: Bryant 8, Mount St. Mary 13. Rebounds: Bryant 16-16 32 (Muse 3-5 8, Trotter 3-3 6, Martin 1-4 5, P.Atkins 3-0 3, Taylor 0-3 3, Russ 1-1 2, I.Atkins 1-0 1, team 4-0 4), Mount St. Mary 8-21 29 (Althoff 3-11 14, Franks 2-2 4, Wilcox 0-3 3, Allgood 1-0 1, team 2-5 7). Team fouls: Bryant 17, Mount St. Mary 17. Fouled out: Mount St. Mary, Allgood.