After the Bryant Lady Hornets dug their way out of an early 10-point hole, their game on Tuesday night against the Rogers Heritage Lady War Eagles (or the politically correct version used in northwest Arkansas, the Rogers Heritage War Eagles women) was nip-and-tuck the rest of the way.
Bryant’s largest lead came with 3:13 left in the game when a 3-pointer by senior Emily Ridgell made it 53-47. But Heritage rallied and, when Sydney Kinnamon knocked down a 3 at the 1:29 mark, the margin was just a point.
After a War Eagles timeout, Bryant junior Kendal Rogers was fouled. However, she couldn’t get the front end of the one-and-one to fall and Heritage had a chance to regain the lead.
But Ridgell made a steal and, though she missed a layup, sophomore Raven Loveless grabbed the carom and scored to make it 55-52.
Looking for a tying 3, both Kinnamon and Emily Seller misfired. The rebound off the second miss went out of bounds to Bryant with :11.1 showing.
After a timeout, Rogers was fouled again with :04.8 to go. Again, the front end of the bonus opportunity rimmed out and the Lady War Eagles had a chance to tie. After they took a timeout with :03.8 to go to set up a final shot, however, Rogers intercepted the inbounds pass and was fouled one more time. And, with :00.5 showing, she knocked down both shots to seal a 57-52 victory, the second of the season in as many games for the Lady Hornets.
Sophomore Raija Todd poured in a team-high 23 points. Ridgell finished with 10 and Rogers 8 to go with a team-high seven rebounds. Kelly Williams, another sophomore, pitched in 5 points as did senior Annie Patton. Loveless had 4 and Destiny Martin had 2 after battling early foul trouble.
Bryant had a whopping 18 offensive rebounds in the game, 30 total.
Seller finished with 19 points and was one of three Lady War Eagles with five boards. Amber Turner finished with 12 points, Kinnamon 11.
“It’s good,” stated Bryant coach Brad Matthews. “We need close games this time of year. There’s so many things to work on. That last minute and a half, two minutes, we didn’t execute, didn’t finish as well as we could have but then, defensively, it’s a one-possession game late and I thought that was one of our best defensive possessions when they were down 3 with about a minute to go in the game.
“Raija obviously had a good night,” he continued. “I thought Kendall and Emily made some big baskets in the fourth quarter. Kelly Williams, Raven, Annie Patton — there were so many other contributions.
“For us to be good, especially in January and February when it really matters most, we have to keep developing these kids who have not been in these situations before,” the coach asserted. “I think we have some kids who are really capable though.”
Sparked by Seller’s trio of 3-pointers, Heritage built a 17-7 lead in the first quarter.
“She was really hot early,” Matthews said of Seller. “She’s a good player. She’s their leading scorer. We kind of knew that going in.
“That’s one of the things about it being the second game of the year with a lot of young kids,” he added, “we have to be more solid, can’t give up the easy shots to the other team’s best players. But that’ll come. We’re playing a lot of kids that are getting minutes that they’ve never gotten before so there are going to be some growing pains.”
Matthews called a timeout and his team found its stride, spurred by 3’s from Patton and Todd. And when Ridgell banked in a jumper in the final minute, the Lady Hornets were within 2, 17-15, going into the second period.
Still, it took a while before Bryant could gain the upper hand. Todd tied it with a triple with 2:14 left in the half. Williams was fouled after grabbing an offensive rebound with 1:43 left, hitting a free throw to give the Lady Hornets their first lead of the game, 26-25.
Todd fed Rogers for an open 10-footer then Rogers and Loveless combined to force a turnover. With :28 left in the half, Todd posted up and knocked down a jump hook with her off hand to make it 30-25 at the half.
“We got off to a real shaky start on both ends of the floor,” Matthews said. “We gave up a ton of shots and a ton of baskets in the first four or five minutes of the game. To their credit, they made shots, made plays. I thought Rogers Heritage played real well. They’re a really good team. They’re going to do well in the 7A-West.
“We finally got our footing,” he related. “We executed much better tonight than we did against Benton (in the season opener on Nov. 19). That’s what you want. It’s the second game of the year. There’s been a lot of stuff to work on but, overall, I thought our offense was a little bit better. I thought we had more balance. We had more ball movement and we played just enough defense to win.”
The game was tied at 30, 35 and 37 in the third quarter. The latter deadlock was the score going into the fourth after Ridgell followed her own miss and, at the other end, Loveless blocked a shot by Turner.
Seller hit a free throw to snap that tie but Todd had back-to-back buckets to push the Lady Hornets back in front. That 3-point edge was erased when Kinnamon knocked down a 3.
At the other end, though, Loveless found Ridgell with a kickout pass resulting in an answering 3, which put the Lady Hornets ahead for good even though it wasn’t comfortable until the end.
Turner’s layup off a back-door cut trimmed it to a 1-point lead. But Todd fed Rogers for a basket and Williams, guarding Seller, made a steal and drove to the other end. She followed her own miss to make it 48-43 with 4:59 left.
The teams traded points until Turner misfired and Ridgell nailed her second trey to push the margin to 6.
Seller drove for a basket and, after a timeout, the Lady Hornets began to work the clock. A held ball with 1:41 left gave Heritage possession and Kinnamon cashed in with a 3 that had her team within 53-52 with 1:29 to go.
But the Lady War Eagles would not score after that.
The win avenges a 35-33 loss in overtime at Heritage last fall.
Bryant was without starting post, senior Rachael Miller who’s out indefinitely with an illness.
The Lady Hornets, now 2-0, plays next against Valley View on Thursday, Dec. 3, at the OrthoArkansas/Central Arkansas Christian Invitational Tournament.
LADY HORNETS 57, LADY WAR EAGLES 52
Score by quarters
Heritage 17 8 12 15 — 52
BRYANT 15 15 7 20 — 57
LADY WAR EAGLES (1-1) 52
Seller 5-9 5-6 19, Turner 5-13 2-2 12, Kinnamon 4-9 0-0 11, Scudder 2-5 0-0 4, Menke 0-1 0-0 0, Mellon 0-0 0-0 0, Thompson 2-2 0-0 4, Cook 1-1 0-0 2. Totals 19-40 (48%) 7-8 (88%) 52
LADY HORNETS (2-0) 57
Todd 9-19 2-4 23, Martin 1-6 0-0 2, Rogers 3-6 2-4 8, Patton 1-3 2-2 5, Ridgell 4-12 0-4 10, Williams 2-3 1-2 5, Loveless 2-3 0-1 4. Totals 22-52 (42%) 7-17 (41%) 57.
Three-point field goals: Bryant 6-13 (Todd 3-5, Ridgell 2-5, Patton 1-3), Rogers Heritage 7-18 (Seller 4-7, Kinnamon 3-6, Turner 0-4, Scudder 0-1). Turnovers: Bryant 10, Rogers Heritage 16. Rebounds: Bryant 18-12 30 (Rogers 5-2 7, Loveless 4-2 6, Ridgell 5-0 5, Martin 2-1 3, Todd 0-2 2, Patton 0-2 2, Williams 2-0 2, team 0-3 3), Rogers Heritage 8-18 26 (Seller 0-5 5, Scudder 2-3 5, Menke 2-3 5, Thompson 1-3 4, Turner 1-1 2, Mellon 0-1 1, Cook 0-1 1, team 2-1 3). Team fouls: Bryant 13, Rogers Heritage 17. Fouled out: Rogers Heritage, Scudder.