Lady Hornets escape Cabot with 47-45 victory
EDITOR’S NOTE: Because the look back at each day in Bryant athletic history has been so favorably received during the time when there was no sports during the COVID-19 shutdown, BryantDaily.com will continue posting past stories of Bryant athletics either posted on BryantDaily.com (from 2009 to the present) or published in the Bryant Times (from 1998 to 2008).
By Rob Patrick
CABOT — The way things were going, it just didn’t seem like the Bryant Lady Hornets were going to get out of Cabot unscathed. Every loose ball seemed to go to the Lady Panthers and the Lady Hornets were missing layups and free throws they usually knock down.
But these Lady Hornets know how to finish a close game.
By out-scoring Cabot 7-1 in the final 2:30, they not only made up a 3-point deficit, they escaped with a 47-45 win that got them one step closer to clinching second place in the 7A-Central Conference and claiming a first-round bye in the State tournament.[more]
Abbi Stearns, the only junior in the seven-player rotation for the Lady Hornets, came through with a 6-for-6 performance at the free-throw line in the fourth quarter including a pair that tied the game with 1:36 to play and two more that put Bryant ahead with 1:14 to go.
Hannah Goshien added a free throw with :10.6 on the clock then Cabot’s 6-3 center Sarah Moore, harassed by Stearns, missed a shot that would’ve tied it in a tense end to the game.
“I kept thinking that some of our mistakes were going to cost us,” allowed head coach Blake Condley whose team improved to 22-3 overall and 10-2 in league play. “We were giving up offensive rebounds. We were missing free throws. We missed some chip-shot layups. Usually, we have been taking care of all those things.
“It’s difficult to keep yourself playing at a high level night in and night out,” he mentioned. “But we’ve just got to get this stuff fixed because when we get ready to go to the State tournament, if you don’t play at a high level, you’re going home.”
The Lady Hornets need a win in one of their two last games. They’ll celebrate Senior Night on Tuesday and take a shot at handing the unbeaten North Little Rock Lady Wildcats their first loss. They finish in the tough environs at Little Rock Central on Friday, Feb. 25.
Condley lauded his team’s defense down the stretch against Cabot.
“We had to bring energy,” he said. “We had to play hard to get stops. These girls know how to play. They know how to get into position. But it’s just a matter of their heart and their intensity, going after loose balls, blocking out. You know, when a shot goes up, you have to be concentrating to block out and then go up and rebound. You just have to do the little things and stay focused and get stops. I think sometimes we want to just score with people but I’m trying to tell them, if we’re going to beat good teams, we’ve got to get stops down the stretch. And I thought we did. We came up with some big stops down the stretch.”
Bryant trailed 44-41 after back-to-back baskets by Cabot’s Amber Rock. A free throw by the Lady Hornets’ Haley Montgomery trimmed the margin to 2.
In turn, Cabot spread the floor and worked the clock before Rock got another open shot inside only to see it rim out. Stearns pulled down a tough rebound and was fouled on the play.
With 1:36 left, she drained both free throws to tie it.
Both teams had chances to break the deadlock. Cabot’s Melissa Wolfe couldn’t get a shot to go. Bryant’s Alana Morris got to the rack but her layup trickled off the front of the rim. On the carom, she and Cabot’s Jessie Grunwald got dual possession with Cabot gaining control.
After a timeout, the Lady Panthers inbounded the ball and Morris made a move to make a steal in front of the scorer’s table near midcourt. She was called for a foul as the ball went out of bounds. Perhaps frustrated by the aggressive Bryant defense, Cabot’s Brooke Taylor drew a technical foul, reportedly for kicking at Morris before she got up off the floor.
So, instead of Cabot sending someone to the line to shoot the one-and-one, Stearns shot the tech free throws and knocked them down. Stearns seemed surprised she was chosen for the task.
“She’d just hit two free throws before that,” Condley explained. “Coach (Monica) Parish and I talked about it. I said, ‘Who’s been at the line?’ And she said, ‘Abbi just hit two. Let’s get her up there.’ And she knocked them both down. That’s big.
“She’s kind of understanding and starting to be able to play with these seniors,” he commented. “I would almost consider her a senior now. She’s got so many minutes in. Inexperience is not an issue with her right now.”
Along with the free throws, Bryant got the ball out on the side but, the Lady Hornets turned the ball over and Cabot worked for an open shot. Grunwald eventually got an open look down the left baseline but the shot rimmed out. In a scramble for the rebound, Cabot used to a timeout to save the possession at the :19.4 mark.
When play resumed, the Lady Panthers got the ball to Moore. Stearns, who had blocked five shots in the game to that point including a pair of Moore’s attempts, thought she had another clean block but it was ruled she had fouled.
Moore went to the line with :14.2 to go but missed the first shot.
Condley called a timeout knowing his team would still have the lead when Moore was finished at the line. As the Lady Hornets redeployed, Montgomery came out to say something to each official.
“That was her,” Condley related. “I said in the timeout, ‘Hey look, girls, if we get into trouble after we get the rebound, call timeout because we had two timeouts left. She said, ‘Coach, I’m going to go tell the officials to make sure they’re looking at us if we get into trouble, we’re going to call those timeouts.’ I said, ‘Go tell them all so they’ll all be looking for it.’ That was her idea to go and do that. That’s one of those senior leadership things we talk about. It’s nice to have those seniors out there to do that.”
The Lady Hornets didn’t need the timeout, however. They got the ball in to Goshien who was fouled immediately. She made the first to make it 47-45.
And even after Moore misfired, the ball got out of bounds off of the hands of one of the Lady Hornets with :00.2 left. Cabot tried to lob a pass in to Moore in the paint but her shot, which missed, wouldn’t have counted as the buzzer sounded.
Stearns finished with 11 points including 9 of 10 free throw shooting. Goshien, Morris and Shanika Johnson each had 10.
Moore and Rock led Cabot with 10 apiece. Wolfe and Taylor added 9 each.
The game was tight throughout. Bryant got out to a 7-2 lead. Morris fed Stearns for the first basket then Goshien snapped a 2-2 tie with a 3. Her steal and layup moments later completed the opening salvo.
Cabot answered with a 9-0 run capped by Taylor’s 3 with 1:28 left in the first quarter. When Johnson hit a free throw and then fed Goshien for a layup to beat the buzzer, the Cabot lead was just 11-10.
But 3’s by Kaki Thomas and Rock pushed lead back to7, the largest for either team in the game.
Johnson sparked Bryant’s counter-attack. She hit a free throw then knocked down a 15-footer. Morris tied the game with a stickback then Brooke Parish made a steal for the Lady Hornets and Johnson was fouled with 3:25 left in the half. Her two free throws put Bryant ahead.
The Lady Hornets held the advantage the rest of the half and most of the third quarter. Cabot was within a point, 25-24, with 1:04 left. Morris drove into the lane and knocked down a jumper and, after Moore hit two free throws, Montgomery converted once at the line. Morris added a layup at the buzzer after blocking a shot by Cabot’s Laci Boyett, chasing down the loose ball and driving the distance, making it 30-26 at the break.
Baskets by Montgomery and Parish had Bryant up 34-30 with three minutes left in the third quarter. But Wolfe drained a trey and, after a Bryant turnover, drove the baseline for a basket as she was fouled. Though she was unable to complete the three-point play, the Lady Panthers had taken a 35-34 lead.
Before the quarter was over, however, Morris scored inside and Johnson added a free throw to give Bryant a 37-35 edge going into the final period.
Taylor drove for a layup to tie it then neither team could get a shot to fall for awhile. On consecutive trips, Stearns blocked shots by Moore but, after the second block sent the ball out of bounds, the Lady Panthers got it to Moore again and she muscled up a shot from eight feet out, knocked it down and was fouled. Her free throw had Cabot up 40-37.
But the Lady Panthers didn’t score for the next two minutes. In the interim, Stearns hit two free throws and Goshien flew in for an offensive rebound and scored to put Bryant up 41-40 with 3:26 left, setting up the dramatic finish.
LADY HORNETS 47, LADY PANTHERS 45
Score by quarters
BRYANT 10 20 7 10 — 47
Cabot 11 15 9 10 — 45
LADY HORNETS (22-3, 10-2) 47
Player fg-fga ft-fta reb fls pts
Montgomery 1-6 2-4 0-2 2 3 4
Goshien 4-6 1-2 2-4 6 2 10
Calley 0-2 0-0 0-1 1 3 0
Stearns 1-2 9-10 1-4 5 2 11
Morris 5-14 0-3 3-5 8 2 10
Parish 1-1 0-2 0-1 1 2 2
Johnson 2-6 6-8 1-2 3 1 10
Team 0-2 2
Totals 14-37 18-29 7-21 28 15 47
LADY PANTHERS (12-13, 5-7) 45
Player fg-fga ft-fta reb fls pts
Taylor 4-7 0-1 0-3 3 4 9
Rock 4-15 0-1 3-0 3 4 10
Wolfe 4-8 0-1 7-8 15 4 9
S.Odom 0-0 0-0 0-1 1 3 0
Moore 3-10 4-5 2-5 7 4 10
Thomas 1-4 0-0 0-0 0 2 3
Russell 0-1 0-0 0-1 1 0 0
Grunwald 0-1 0-0 0-2 2 1 0
Boyett 0-2 2-2 1-1 2 1 2
M.Odom 1-3 0-0 1-0 1 1 2
Wacker 0-1 0-0 1-1 2 0 0
Team 0-2 2
Totals 17-52 6-10 18-23 41 22 45
Three-point field goals: Bryant 1-6 (Goshien 1-3, Montgomery 0-3), Cabot 5-15 (Rock 2-6, Thomas 1-4, Wolfe 1-2, Taylor 1-2, M.Odom 0-1). Turnovers: Bryant 10, Cabot 13. Technical foul: Cabot, Taylor.