Lady Hornets just can’t stay with top-ranked Conway

The Conway Lady Wampus Cats, ranked No. 1 in the state, stayed unbeaten in 7A-Central Conference play on Friday night, with a 74-40 win over the Bryant Lady Hornets.

Conway, now 19-1, is good offensively with 3-point shooters and post players that are six-feet tall or so. But where they’re really good is in their 1-3-1 half-court zone, which they trap out of. That’s especially true when all but one of the Lady Hornets is taller than 5’5” and almost all of Conway’s players are bigger than that.

The Lady Cats forced 27 turnovers in the game, though Bryant caused them some trouble defensively as well, coming up with 18 turnovers.

“Defensively, they’ve got their extended 1-3-1 and we didn’t do a good job of executing against it,” said Bryant head coach Brad Matthews. “I obviously didn’t do a good job of preparing us.

“I thought their size and length gave our guards some problems in terms of seeing over the top of it, seeing the next pass,” he added. “I thought we had a good plan coming in but Conway’s very good. There’s a reason they’re ranked No. 1; a lot of talent, a lot of athleticism, a lot of size. They shoot it so well from the perimeter, they’re hard to guard.”

Conway rushed to a 14-2 lead in the first quarter and never trailed in the game, though the Lady Hornets hung around after their slow start.

“We dug ourselves a hole and really spent the rest of the first half, fighting and clawing just to keep it around 15,” Matthews said, referring to the 29-14 halftime lead. “We went ‘man’ and we hadn’t played ‘man’ in a while. I thought, for the most part, considering we hadn’t played it a lot, we did a fairly decent job of that.

“But, offensively, we could never put anything together to really make any kind of run,” he said. “Some of our bad offense led to some easy baskets for them, transition baskets, open shooters in transition. I’ve just got to do a better job of getting our kids in position to have success on offense.”

Conway’s lead was 16-3 before junior Kalia Walker hit a pull-up jumper off a drive, cutting the lead to 11 going into the second stanza.

Missed free throws cost the Lady Hornets as they battled to stay in range in the second quarter. They were 1 for 7 at the line and wound up just 5 of 17.

But they hit seven 3’s including four by Lexie Taylor, who gave the team a boost off the bench. She and Walker, who hit a pair of 3’s, led the Lady Hornets with 12 points.

Conway’s top scorer was Asiyha Smith with 18. Alyssa Netherlain and Cardrina Nolen added 12 apiece.

The Lady Hornets trailed 21-6 early in the second quarter but Taylor hit a 3. Smith answered in kind and the lead grew to 27-9 with under three minutes left in the half.

Ivory Russ scored inside then India Atkins took a charge as Conway turned it over. That eventually led the Lady Hornets hitting a 3 to narrow the gap to 13. Walker pumped in the triple.

Big Kyja Chatman scored to end the half and, to start the second, the Lady Cats went on a 6-0 run to extend the margin to 35-14.

After Matthews called a timeout, the Lady Hornets made some noise. Celena Martin made a steal and fed Russ for a layup. Moments later, Russ converted a free throw.

The lead reached 21 for Conway before Walker hit a 3. After free throws by Smith, Walker canned a 12-foot jumper but the Lady Hornets just couldn’t get any closer.

The Lady Cats led 47-23 before Gordon hit a free throw for Bryant. Netherlain ripped a 3 before Walker answered at the buzzer to make it 50-27 going into the fourth quarter.

In that final period, Bryant was never able to whittle the lead under 22 despite Taylor’s hot shooting. She knocked down a trio of 3’s.

But it was not enough as Conway kept pulling away.

LADY CATS 74, LADY HORNETS 40

Score by quarters

BRYANT          5          9          13        13 — 40

Conway           16        13        21        24 — 74

LADY HORNETS (6-11, 2-4) 40

Trotter 0-10 1-2 1, Walker 5-14 0-0 12, Atkins 0-3 0-0 0, Martin 1-5 2-6 5, Russ 3-6 1-6 7, Gordon 1-2 1-2 3, Taylor 4-4 0-1 12. Totals 14-44 (32%) 5-17 (29%) 40.

LADY CATS (19-1, 6-0) 74

Roetzell 2-7 2-2 8, Netherlain 5-10 0-0 12, Yelder 1-7 2-4 4, Smith 4-9 9-10 18, Nolen 5-8 2-2 12, Chatman 3-4 2-4 8, Kyle 0-3 0-0 0, Wiseman 0-0 0-0 0, Rector 1-3 0-2 2, York 2-3 1-1 5, Cecil 0-0 0-0 0, Hallman 0-1 0-0 0, Reed 2-3 0-0 5. Totals 25-58 (43%) 18-25 (72%) 74.

Three-point field goals: Bryant 7-21 (Taylor 4-4, Walker 2-7, Martin 1-2, Trotter 0-6, Atkins 0-1, Gordon 0-1), Conway 6-25 (Roetzell 2-7, Netherlain 2-6, Smith 1-3, Reed 1-2, Yelder 0-4, Kyle 0-1, Rector 0-1, Hallman 0-1). Turnovers: Bryant 27, Conway 18. Rebounds: Bryant 14-16 30 (Martin 3-5 8, Atkins 3-3 6, Russ 2-3 5, Gordon 2-1 3, Taylor 1-1 2, Trotter 0-1 1, Walker 0-1 1, team 3-1 4), Conway 20-21 41 (Smith 3-6 9, Yelder 2-4 6, Nolen 4-1 5, Chatman 3-2 5, Roetzell 1-2 3, Kyle 2-1 3, York 2-0 2, Netherlain 0-1 1, Wiseman 0-1 1, Cecil 0-1 1, Reed 1-0 1, team 2-2 4). Team fouls: Bryant 20, Conway 17. Foueld out: Bryant, Russ.



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