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With an 8-0 run to start the second half, the Bryant Lady Hornets freshman team whittled a 10-point deficit to 2, 23-21 with 2:08 left in the third quarter against the North Little Rock Lady Charging Wildcats freshmen on Thursday night. And they had a chance to tie or take the lead. But the relentless pressure defense of the Lady Cats forced a turnover that resulted in a free throw that spurred a 7-0 run to end the quarter.
The Lady Hornets battled in the final stanza, but North Little Rock held on for a 38-29 victory at the Bryant Middle School gym.
The loss dropped Bryant to 2-3 on the season going into a home contest against Conway White on Thursday, Dec. 6.
“We competed,” acknowledged Lady Hornets coach Nathan Castaldi. “But they’re tough. They always are. They’re physical, quick, athletic. They make you work for everything you get.
“I thought our girls did a good job battling through that,” he said. “We’ve got to do a better job executing our stuff. I thought that’s what they did a good job of, taking us out of what we were trying to do. They make it tough on you.
“It’s a mental grind against them,” the coach related regarding that third-quarter rally and counter-rally. “You finally get a little daylight and you feel like, ‘Hey, I’ve got to go,’ instead of sitting back and executing your stuff, stuff we work on in practice. We had a couple of good possessions then, like I said, mentally, they wear you down just as much as they do physically.”
The Lady Hornets had 25 turnovers but forced North Little Rock into 17. The rebounding was close with the Lady Cats finishing with a 27-26 edge on the boards but 15 of North Little Rock’s boards were on the offensive end.
“We battled a little foul trouble all game long, especially our bigs,” said Castaldi. “We’re a little undersized to begin with then we were down a couple due to foul trouble the first half, which put us in a little bit of a bind.”
Parris Atkins led the Lady Hornets with 15 points, but she fouled out with 1:26 left in the game with the Lady Hornets within 32-27.
“Losing Parris the last couple of minutes kind of hurt us a little,” Castaldi acknowledged.
The lead was 36-27 when Daria Green drove for a layup for the Lady Hornets’ last bucket with :23 to go.
Bryant led 5-2 in the early going as North Little Rock missed some chances at the free-throw line. Neither team shot well from the stripe. The Lady Cats were 7 of 24 (29 percent) while the Lady Hornets converted 7 of 15 (47 percent).
But a 3-pointer sparked the Lady Cats who surged to a 10-8 lead by the end of the quarter.
With the Lady Hornets missing chances at the line in the second quarter, North Little Rock pushed the lead to 23-12. Jordan Hancock hit a free throw for Bryant with :20.9 showing on the clock before halftime. The carom off the missed second shot went out of bounds off one of the Lady Cats, but a turnover undermined the opportunity to get closer.
But, to start the second half, Hancock drove for a layup then so did Atkins, cutting the margin to 5. North Little Rock used a timeout but another layup for Hancock kept the Lady Hornets’ surge going.
After two missed free throws by the Lady Cats, Atkins scored off a steal to make it 23-21. Regan Dillon rebounded a North Little Rock miss, but the Lady Hornets were unable to get a chance to tie it with the turnover.
ShaMya Jordan’s stickback started the fourth quarter. North Little Rock answered with a steal and layup. Off a Lady Cats’ miss, Atkins rebounded and went coast-to-coast for a layup. Off a missed free throw for North Little Rock, Jordan was fouled. She connected on both of her shots to cut the lead to 32-27.
Bryant had a chance to get closer off a missed 3 but a turnover undermined the effort and North Little Rock scored off the offensive glass to push it back to 7 and the Lady Hornets were never that close again.
LADY CATS 38, LADY HORNETS 29
North Little Rock 10 13 7 8 — 38
BRYANT 8 5 8 8 — 29
LADY CATS 38
Morgan 0-4 1-3 1, Brown 3-4 0-0 6, Rice 2-2 0-1 4, Edwards 1-12 3-8 6, Vick 1-3 0-4 2, Harris 7-10 1-2 15, Crudup 1-4 2-6 4, Green 0-0 0-0 0. Totals15-39 7-24 38.
LADY HORNETS 29
Hancock 3-5 1-2 7, Greer 1-7 1-3 3, LaCerra 0-3 0-0 0, Atkins 6-7 3-8 15, Chappell 0-1 0-0 0, Dillon 0-0 0-0 0, Palmer 0-1 0-0 0, Jordan 1-1 2-2 4. Totals11-25 7-15 29.
Three-point field goals:Bryant 0-2 (Hancock 0-1, LaCerra 0-1), North Little Rock 1-9 (Edwards 1-7, Morgan 0-1, Vick 0-1). Turnovers:Bryant 25, North Little Rock 17. Rebounds:Bryant 6-20 26 (Hancock 1-4 5, Greer 0-4 4, Jordan 2-2 4, Atkins 0-3 3, LaCerra 0-2 2, Dillon 0-1 1, Palmer 0-1 1, team 3-3 6), North Little Rock 15-12 27 (Harris 5-3 8, Brown 4-1 5, Rice 1-2 3, Morgan 1-1 2, Edwards 0-2 2, Crudup 0-1 1, team 2-2 4). Team fouls:Bryant 18, North Little Rock 16. Fouled out: Bryant, Atkins.