Photos by Kevin Nagle
After holding leads with less than a minute left in regulation and 1:33 left in overtime, the Bryant Lady Hornets suffered a heartbreaking loss Tuesday night at the Hornets’ Nest as the Russellville Lady Cyclones came away with a 61-57 win.
Russellville, which combined to convert 15 of 17 free throws in the game, converted 7 of 8 in the final 1:11 of the extra period to hold off Bryant.
Point guard Alyssa Owens and forward Addy Hipps came through in the clutch for the Lady Cyclones with Hipps making perhaps the biggest play. After Owens had converted twice with :39.7 left, Hipps made a steal and was fouled. Though she made one free throw, it made it a two-possession game.
Bryant’s Destiny Martin was fouled after chasing down the loose rebound off Hipps’ second miss but with :20.3 left, Owens knocked down two from the line to seal the win.
It’s wasn’t the first gut-wrencher of the game for the Lady Hornets. After trailing by as much as 14 in the first half, they came all the way back and held a 46-42 lead with less than a minute to play in regulation. And they forced a turnover by the Lady Cyclones.
Though they had started to spread the floor on offense to eat clock after a timeout with 2:21 left, Bryant freshman Raija Todd got to the basket so easily, she took the shot. But it refused to go in.
Still, Russellville’s Bailey Wilders rebounded, was fouled and missed the front end of a one-and-one. But the Lady Cyclones chased down the rebound — one of a whopping 17 they collected on the offensive end. Owens drained a 3 with :37 showing, cutting Bryant’s lead to 1.
Owens followed up with a steal but she missed a shot. Once again, however, she scrambled after the carom and was fouled with :26.7 to go. When she converted, Russellville had a 47-46 lead.
Bryant’s Jakeria Otey dashed to the other end but when she gathered to take her shot inside the left block, it came loose and went out of bounds. After a timeout, Hipps was fouled with :10.2 showing. She made both but the Lady Hornets could still tie it with a 3.
Otey got the shot and, though it missed, Hipps fouled her with :01.2 on the clock. Otey, who hit two clutch free throws with no time on the clock to provide the winning margin over rival Benton last year, calmly delivered on all three to tie the game and send it to overtime.
Russellville wound up out-rebounding Bryant 41-31. Hipps finished with 22 points and nine boards while Shameka Ealy finished with 20 points, 17 rebounds and six blocked shots. Owens had 14 points.
Ealy got 16 of her points in the first half. Bryant head coach Brad Matthews put senior Lauren Carroll on Ealy defensively in the second half and, though Ealy is 6-1 and Carroll 5-4, the Lady Cyclones’ post player scored just 2 points on a pair of free throws in the second half.
To start overtime, Owens missed a shot. The Lady Hornets were in position to rebound but Ealy went over the top to get a piece of the ball. She came down with the rebound and, though it appeared she took a hop after gaining control of it, her jumper from eight feet was allowed as it nestled into the net to give Russellville the upper hand.
Otey tied it with a drive to the hoop and, after misses at both ends, Bryant’s Maddie Baxter and Emily Ridgell combined to force a turnover. Ridgell was fouled on her drive to the basket and converted both shots to give the Lady Hornets a 53-51 lead with 1:58 left in the extra period.
At the other end, however, Hipps tossed in a 3 as the lead began to seesaw. Carroll hit two free throws to put Bryant up at the 1:33 mark but Hipps hit two in return.
Following a missed shot by the Lady Hornets, Owens knocked down the two free throws that made it a 3-point game ahead of Hipps’ steal.
“Our kids got off to a rocky start,” Matthews noted. “We got behind the eight ball. But, to our kids’ credit, they came out in the second half and really fought hard, made some plays in the third and fourth quarter and put us in position to win the game.
“We didn’t execute down the stretch and that’s on me,” he continued. “Obviously, that’s something we’ve got to go back and learn from and work on, something we’ll definitely drill in practice more. I thought our defensive execution picked up after halftime. I’ve just got to do a better job of getting us to finish games.”
In fact, Bryant held Russellville to just 9 points in the second half.
With Ealy scoring 11 points in the first quarter, the Lady Cylcones built a 16-8 lead going into the second stanza. With 3:23 left in the half, it was 28-14. Carroll drove, drew Ealy and dished to Ridgell for a basket to start the Bryant run. Two free throws by Carroll cut it to 10. Ridgell made a steal that led to a three-point play for Otey that had Bryant within 7 but Russellville’s Bailey Wilders scored in the final seconds to make it 30-21 at the half.
Bryant stared the second half with a run spurred by Otey’s 3-pointer. Ridgell made another theft and Carroll drove for a bucket. And when Otey added two free throws, the Lady Cylcones called for a timeout with its lead down to 30-28.
When play resumed, Hipps got to the line and converted once. Otey got that one back and when Baxter fed Carroll for a layup off a drive-and-dish, the Lady Hornets had their first lead since it was 4-0, 31-30.
But Russellville held a 34-33 edge going into the fourth quarter.
Bryant eventually tied it on a free throw by Ridgell with 5:03 left in regulation. It came on Ealy’s first foul of the game. Carroll and Ridgell combined on a steal that led to a three-point play by Ridgell that had the Lady Hornets up by that amount.
Hipps scored off the offensive glass in response but Otey got open from long range off a kick-out pass from Carroll. Her 3 had Bryant up by 4.
Ealy’s two free throws cut it to 2 and, after a Bryant miss, the Lady Cyclones had a chance to tie or go ahead only to have Baxter make a steal. Matthews called timeout with 1:41 left to set up his spread offense, which led to a layup by Otey that made it 46-42.
Otey led Bryant with21 points and eight rebounds. Carroll finished with 14 points and Ridgell 12.
LADY CYCLONES 61, LADY HORNETS 57, OT
Score by quarters
Russellville 16 14 4 5 12 — 61
BRYANT 8 13 12 16 8 — 57
LADY CYCLONES (7-10, 3-1) 61
Looper 0-0 0-0 0, Owens 3-13 6-6 14, Hipps 7-14 6-8 22, Wilbers 2-5 0-3 4, Ealy 8-16 2-2 20, Brown 0-2 1-2 1, Posey 0-2 0-0 0, Prochazka 0-1 0-0 0, Phillips 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 20-54 (37%) 15-17 (88%) 61.
LADY HORNETS (9-8, 1-3) 57
Otey 6-15 7-10 21, Carroll 5-10 4-4 14, Baxter 1-5 0-0 2, Todd 1-10 0-0 2, Miller 2-3 0-0 4, McDowell 0-0 0-0 0, Ridgell 3-9 6-7 12, Martin 0-0 2-2 2, Rogers 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 18-47 (38%) 19-23 (83%) 57.
Three-point field goals: Bryant 2-7 (Otey 2-3, Todd 0-2, Carroll 0-1, Baxter 0-1), Russellville 6-17 (Owens 2-7, Hipps 2-4, Ealy 2-4, Brown 0-1, Phillips 0-1). Turnovers: Bryant 9, Russellville 13. Rebounds: Bryant 10-21 31 (Otey 2-6 8, Ridgell 4-2 6, Baxter 1-4 5, Miller 0-3 3, Carroll 1-1 2, Todd 0-2 2, Martin 0-1 1, Rogers 0-1 1, team 2-1 3), Russellville 17-24 41 (Ealy 5-12 17, Hipps 5-4 9, Wilbers 2-2 4, Brown 3-1 4, Owens 1-2 3, Posey 0-1 1, Phillips 0-1 1, team 1-1 2). Team fouls: Bryant 19, Russellville 17. Fouled out: Bryant, Ridgell; Russellville, Wilbers.