Lady Cats pull away from Lady Hornets

Photos by Rick Nation and Kevin Nagle

Raija Todd goes up for a shot. (Photo by Kevin Nagle)

Raija Todd goes up for a shot. (Photo by Kevin Nagle)

To pull an upset, a team has to shoot well. It also helps if it wins either the rebound battle or the turnover margin.

Unfortunately for the Bryant Lady Hornets on Tuesday night, as they tried to upset the 18-1 Conway Lady Cats, none of that happened.

The Lady Hornets shot just 24 percent from the field, committed 19 turnovers to Conway’s 14, and got out-rebounded 53-28 with 27 of Conway’s boards coming on the offensive end.

The Lady Cats didn’t shoot much better at 37 percent but the rebounding allowed them to take 25 more shots than the Lady Hornets.

The game was pretty tight most of the first half but Conway closed the half with a run then dominated the third quarter on the way to a 65-29 win in the 7A/6A-Central Conference contest.

Actually, holding the Lady Cats to “just” 65 points was pretty good. They scored 82 against Greenwood, 76 against Killeen, Texas, Ellison, 79 against Fort Smith Southside, 81 against North Little Rock and 80 against Pine Bluff Dollarway this season.

Rachael Miller launched a 3-point shot as a pair of Conway defenders try to get out to defend it. (Photo by Rick Nation)

Rachael Miller launched a 3-point shot as a pair of Conway defenders try to get out to defend it. (Photo by Rick Nation)

“I think they’re averaging 75, 80 a game,” mentioned Lady Hornets coach Brad Matthews. “We know they play in spurts. We’ve just got to be able to counter the spurts. We talked about that but, you know, talking about it is different than doing it. They’re a very, very good team.”

UCA signee Alexis Tolefree led Conway with 18 points. That’s below her average. Bryant sophomore Raija Todd defended her and it took Tolefree 24 shots to get those 18 points.

Bryant senior Emily Ridgell held the Lady Cats’ other senior starter who’s being recruited Hailey Estes without a point.

But junior forward Fut’ra Banks hit the Lady Hornets with 14 points and 17 rebounds (11 offensive) and junior Savannah Lowe added 14 points and 10 boards.

Todd led Bryant with 11 points. Ridgell had 6, Destiny Martin 5, Rachael Miller 4 and Annie Patton 3. Miller and Martin each has seven rebounds.

“We’ve got some positive things to take out of it tonight,” Matthews said. “There were some things we did better than we had been doing. Just too many breakdowns against a really talented team.

“I thought our defensive effort was good,” he added. “We got beat on the boards. I thought that was really the difference in them extending their lead. They really did a number on us on the boards.”

Todd and Ridgell each scored after Lowe had given Conway a 3-0 lead to start the game. But the 4-3 lead for Bryant was the only one the Lady Hornets would enjoy on the night.

Emily Ridgell (Photo by Rick Nation)

Emily Ridgell (Photo by Rick Nation)

Still, after two free throws by Lowe and a layup off a steal by Tolefree, Martin scored off a nice feed from Todd to make it 7-6. Lowe and Miller traded basket before Conway pushed out to an 18-8 lead. Todd’s jumper in the lane made it an 8-point margin at the end of the quarter.

Tolefree scored first in the second period but, after a Bryant timeout, Ridgell converted a free throw, made a steal and got to the line for two free tosses and the Lady Hornets were within 20-13 with 5:04 left in the half.

But Conway scored the next 10 points. Tolefree canned a pull-up jumper, Brianna Wells knocked down a 12-footer and, after Tolefree connected on her only 3 (in 10 tries), Banks hit the offensive glass and wound up with a three-point play.

The score was 30-14 at the half.

“I thought we came out against their press and distributed it well, got some shots, took care of the ball well against their press,” Matthews said. “They got out of the press and went back to that 1-3-1. That caused us some problems as they do everybody. We just couldn’t execute well enough to consistently score. We’ve got to be a little bit more consistent in our scoring against such a quality team.”

Conway scored the first 8 points of the third quarter before Todd drained a 3. But, by the end of the period, the Lady Cats had extended the margin to 52-22. Banks had 9 of her points and eight of her rebounds in the quarter. Heather Lumley came off the bench and fired in a pair of 3’s then hit a third one in the fourth quarter.

The Lady Hornets will try to bounce back this Friday when they make the long trip to Siloam Springs.

LADY CATS 65, LADY HORNETS 29

Score by quarters

Conway          18       12       22       13 — 65

BRYANT          10       4          8          7 — 29

LADY CATS (19-1, 5-0, 3-0) 65

Tolefree 8-24 1-1 18, Lowe 5-18 3-4 14, Estes 0-4 0-0 0, Banks 5-12 4-4 14, Evans 2-2 0-0 4, Wells 3-4 0-0 9, Lumley 0-0 0-0 0, Lewis 0-0 0-0 0, Brown 0-0 0-0 0, Foster 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 25-67 (37%) 10-12 (83%) 65.

LADY HORNETS (6-10, 1-4, 1-2) 29

Todd 4-16 2-5 11, Ridgell 1-11 4-6 6, Martin 2-7 1-2 5, Rogers 0-2 0-0 0, Miller 2-3 0-0 4, Loveless 0-1 0-0 0, Patton 1-2 0-0 3. Totals 10-42 (24%) 7-13 (54%) 29.

Three-point field goals: Bryant 2-10 (Todd 1-5, Patton 1-2, Ridgell 0-2, Miller 0-1), Conway 5-22 (Lumley 3-4, Tolefree 1-10, Lowe 1-5, Estes 0-2, Foster 0-1). Turnovers: Bryant 19, Conway 14. Rebounds: Bryant 11-17 28 (Miller 3-4 7, Martin 2-5 7, Ridgell 2-1 3, Rogers 0-2 2, Todd 1-0 1, Loveless 0-1 1, team 3-4 7), Conway 27-26 53 (Banks 11-6 17, Lowe 5-5 10, Estes 2-5 7, Wells 2-3 5, Evans 3-1 4, Tolefree 0-2 2, Lewis 1-0 1, Brown 0-1 1, Foster 0-1 1, team 3-2 5). Team fouls: Bryant 12, Conway 15.

Raven Loveless tries to get a shot away in traffic. (Photo by Kevin Nagle)

Raven Loveless tries to get a shot away in traffic. (Photo by Kevin Nagle)

Destiny Martin tries to evade Conway's Brianna Wells as she takes a shot. (Photo by Kevin Nagle)

Destiny Martin tries to evade Conway’s Brianna Wells as she takes a shot. (Photo by Kevin Nagle)

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