For more photos of this event by Rick Nation, go here; photos also by Andrew Schroeder
When the Bryant Lady Hornets were under Covid quarantine during January, they missed three games against teams with a combined record (now) of 12-37.
When they came back, they faced four teams over six games, including two against North Little Rock, that had a combined record of 50-10 (currently).
On Friday night at Hornet Arena, the Lady Hornets played one of the teams they missed the first time through the 6A-Central Conference schedule, the Mount St. Mary Academy Belles. And they breezed to a 58-21 victory.
“We’ve been through the gauntlet,” acknowledged Lady Hornets head coach Brad Matthews. “We came back from quarantine and played what has to be one of toughest stretches in the state.
“Last Friday against Conway, we had spurts where we played well,” he noted. “We go on the road to Northside and I thought we played better. Then we carried that over to tonight.”
Four Bryant players finished in double figures, led by Emileigh Muse with 15 points. Parris Atkins scored 14 points to go with 10 rebounds while Natalie Edmonson pitched in with 12 points and freshman point guard Brilynn Findley, coming off a breakout 17-point performance at Northside, added 11.
“I thought we executed better,” said Matthews. “It was the first time we’ve seen a 2-3 zone in quite a while. So, we had to work on that in practice.”
Individually, Edmonson, Muse and Findley have had good 3-point shooting nights, but it’s been a while since all three of them were knocking down 3’s in the same game. Against the Belles, they each had three triples.
“We feel like we have good shooters and tonight we had four in double figures,” Matthews commented. “For us to be good, that’s what we have to have. We have to be able to spread it out.
“That’s what we’re trying to grow toward to where they don’t have to be hot; they just have to be them,” he added. “If we can get Natalie and Brilynn and Emileigh shooting it well and Parris.”
By spreading the defense out with the outside shooting, it loosens up the defense for Atkins’ drives to the hoop.
Matthews also praised his lone senior.
“Lauryn Taylor’s kind of waited her turn, so to speak, and, as a senior, she’s given us a lot of good minutes while Lauren Lain has been quarantined.”
Bryant’s defense was pretty good too. The Lady Hornets forced 26 turnovers and limited the Belles to 23 percent shooting (7 of 30) from the field.
The Lady Hornets started fast, running out to a 21-4 lead. Findley ignited an opening run of 7-0 with a 3. Atkins made a steal and layup. Moments later, she hit a driving jumper.
Mount’s Ellen Brady broke the ice for her team with a 15-foot jumper. She would go on to score 10 points in the game to lead the Belles.
Taylor added two free throws and, off another Mount turnover, Atkins got a layup to make it 11-2.
Millie Allgood converted two free throws at the 3:38 mark of the first quarter. Muse countered with her first 3 off an assist from Edmonson. Atkins had another layup then Findley fed Muse for another triple. A steal and layup by Findley made it 21-4 with :30 left in the quarter.
Blayke Schneider hit a baseline jumper for the Belles to make it a 15-point lead going into the second quarter.
Another steal and layup by Atkins started the scoring in the second quarter. After another Belles turnover and a timeout, Edmonson drained back-to-back 3’s to extend the margin to 29-6.
At the half, Bryant led 33-10.
Brady scored the first bucket of the second half but then the Lady Hornets went on a 14-0 tear that started with a reverse layup by Muse. Bryant followed that up with a torrent of 3’s. Muse and Edmonson connected then Findley added a pair on back-to-back possessions.
With the Lady Hornets up 47-12, Mount got a timeout. When play resumed, Brady hit a 3 but Muse connected twice at the line then after a steal by Jayla Knight, Muse picked up an assist on Night’s layup. Atkins made yet another theft and hit a layup to make it 53-15.
Despite a three-point play by Allgood in the final minute of the third, the game went to the fourth quarter with the mercy rule in effect.
“We don’t have to do anything out of the ordinary,” Matthews reiterated. “We’ve just got to be good being us. We were better against Northside and we’re better tonight and, hopefully, it’ll carry over to Central on Tuesday.”
Bryant plays at Little Rock Central.
LADY HORNETS 58, BELLES 21
Score by quarters
Mount St. Mary 6 4 8 3 — 21
BRYANT 21 12 20 5 — 58
BELLES (0-16, 0-7) 21
Blakely 0-3 0-0 0, Brady 4-8 0-0 10, Todd 0-5 0-0 0, Matute 0-0 0-0 0, Allgood 2-6 5-5 9, Schneider 1-2 0-0 2, Thompson 0-0 0-0 0, Meaders 0-3 0-0 0, Horras 0-3 0-0 0. Totals 7-30 (23%) 5-5 (100%) 21.
LADY HORNETS (9-7, 2-5) 58
Atkins 7-13 0-0 14, Edmonson 4-7 1-2 12, Findley 4-5 0-0 11, Muse 5-12 2-2 15, Taylor 0-3 2-2 2, Knight 2-5 0-2 4, Johnson 0-0 0-0 0, Horton 0-2 0-0 0. Totals 22-47 (47%) 5-8 (63%) 58.
Three-point field goals: Bryant 9-20 (Muse 3-8, Edmonson 3-6, Findley 3-4, Horton 0-2), Mount St. Mary 2-14 (Brady 2-4, Todd 0-5, Horras 0-3, Blakely 0-2). Turnovers: Bryant 15, Mount St. Mary 26. Rebounds:Bryant 11-20 31 (Atkins 1-9 10, Knight 4-1 5, Edmonson 1-3 4, Muse 1-3 4, Taylor 2-1 3, Findley 1-0 1, Horton 0-1 1, team 1-2 3), Mount St. Mary 3-15 18 (Allgood 1-6 7, Blakely 0-2 2, Brady 0-2 2, Meadors 0-2 2, Todd 0-1 1, Matute 1-0 1, Horras 0-1 1, Thompson 0-1 1, team 1-0 1). Team fouls: Bryant 7, Mount St. Mary 8. Technical foul: Mount St. Mary, Meadors.