By Rob Patrick
On their way to a 14-2 overall record and a 5-0 start in the 7A-Central Conference, the Bryant Lady Hornets faced teams that matched their quickness. And they’ve often come up against teams that were much taller.
But, for the first time, they ran into a team that was both in the North Little Rock Lady Charging Wildcats on Tuesday, Jan. 27.And instead of the Lady Hornets making a late run to take control of the game, it was the Lady Cats who finished with a 15-4 run that turned their tenuous 60-56 lead into a closer-than-that 75-60 victory.
It was a game that deserved a bigger audience but, because of the threat of icy weather which wiped out every other Class 7A game in the state, the showdown was moved up to a 5 p.m. start. That, along with the conditions, held down the crowd so a relative smattering witnessed the battle for sole possession of first place in the league.[more]
And as far as those Bryant fans on hand were concerned, North Little Rock might as well have brought pup tents, sleeping bags and the ingredients for smores ‘cause there was a whole lotta campin’ goin’ on.
Time after time, members of the crowd crowed about the length of time the Lady Wildcats’ post players were allowed to remain in the lane.
And between them, Casse Vaughn and Dominique Smith accounted for 39 of the North Little Rock points. Vaughn was 10 of 13 from the floor, Smith 9 of 10.
Still, it took that late surge to shake the Lady Hornets who had an eight-game win streak broken with the setback. After falling behind by 12 points late in the third quarter, Bryant had sliced the lead to 2.
With 5:23 left, a driving bucket by Alana Morris (24 points) pulled the Lady Hornets within 56-54.
North Little Rock’s Jerica James answered with her team’s lone 3-pointer of the game and, following a Bryant turnover, Markesha Hawkins added a free throw to make it 60-54.
Another drive by Morris kept Bryant close.
Hawkins tacked on another free throw and James drove for a layup off a Bryant miscue to make it 63-56. Anna Simpson countered for the Lady Hornets to trim the lead to 5 with 2:33 left.
But that was Bryant’s last field goal of the game. North Little Rock pushed the lead to 70-58 before Hughes converted a pair of free throws with :41.6 showing. In then end, however, Chasity Seale and Hawkins tacked on free throws to stretch the margin to 15.
Vaughn finished with 20 points, Smith 19, Seale 15 and Hawkins 10.
Simpson finished with 12 for the Lady Hornets. Montgomery added 8 and Kenzee Calley 7. Hot-shooting Hannah Goshien, obviously a target for the North Little Rock defense, was held to 5, snapping a string of three games straight in which she’d knocked down four 3’s.
Bryant head coach Blake Condley was philosophical afterwards, noting that he wanted his team to learn from the loss and take it as an incentive to get better.
The two teams meet again in North Little Rock on Feb. 20.
The game started at a full tilt pace. Calley opened the scoring with a 3 and the Lady Hornets, behind Simpson and Morris, held the upper hand until Vaughn got hot inside in the final two minutes of the opening quarter.
The North Little Rock run turned a 14-12 Bryant lead into a 21-14 deficit before Morris hit a baseline jumper and two free throws in the final 40 seconds to get the Lady Hornets within 21-18.
The teams traded baskets for most of the second quarter with Vaughn’s stickback at the 2:33 mark giving her team a 33-26 advantage. But Calley hit a shot off a nice feed from Montgomery then took advantage of a steal by Hughes for a layup that cut the margin to 33-30 before North Little Rock’s Robencia Taylor hit the offensive glass for a bucket that set the halftime score.
Smith’s three-point play to start the second half helped the Lady Cats initially build the 12-point advantage. Though the Lady Hornets whittled it to 6 at one point, it was still 54-42 in the final minute of the third period.
Hughes hit a pair of free throws to make it a 10-point game going into the fourth and, out of the break, the Lady Hornets ran a play to get an open look for Goshien who spashed the trey. After a North Little Rock turnover, Hughes drove the lane and kicked the ball out to Montgomery for a 3 to make it a 4-point game.
After a miss by Hawkins, Morris knocked down a 15-foot jumper and the Lady Hornets were within 54-52 with 6:02 remaining.
LADY CHARGING WILDCATS 75, LADY HORNETS 60
Score by quarters
NoLittle Rock 21 14 19 21 — 75
BRYANT 18 12 14 16 — 60
NORTH LITTLE ROCK (14-3, 6-0) 75
Player fg-fga ft-fta reb fls pts
James 3-11 0-0 2-6 8 1 7
Seale 4-8 7-7 0-3 3 4 15
Hawkins 2-8 6-9 1-7 8 3 10
Vaughn 10-13 0-0 4-2 6 1 20
Smith 9-10 1-1 2-3 5 4 19
Olson 0-2 0-0 0-0 0 1 0
Brown 1-1 0-1 0-2 2 1 2
Williams 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 1 0
Taylor 1-3 0-0 1-1 2 0 2
Team reb. 1-2 3
Totals 30-56 14-18 11-26 37 16 75
BRYANT (14-3, 5-1) 60
Player fg-fga ft-ft reb fls pts
Hughes 0-3 4-5 0-3 3 3 4
Goshien 2-8 0-2 1-4 5 3 5
Calley 3-6 0-0 1-1 2 0 7
Morris 9-16 4-5 2-3 5 2 24
Simpson 5-9 2-2 1-1 2 2 12
Montgomery 3-7 1-2 0-1 1 4 8
Johnson 0-2 0-0 0-0 0 0 0
Team reb. 1-5 6
Totals 22-51 11-16 6-18 24 14 60
Three-point field goals: Bryant 5-16 (Morris 2-5, Goshien 1-5, Montgomery 1-2, Calley 1-1, Hughes 0-2, Johnson 0-1), North Little Rock 1-11 (James 1-5, Seale 0-3, Hawkins 0-2, Olson 0-1). Turnovers: Bryant 18, North Little Rock 19.