The Bryant Lady Hornets were having a rough night. With 2:50 left in the third quarter, they found themselves trailing the Hot Springs Lady Trojans, 29-13. Through three quarters, they were shooting 18 percent from the field.
In fact, at the point, the Lady Trojan’s guard Jaylia Reed had outscored them herself, having scored 23 of her game-high 25 points at that point.
But, utilizing a half-court trap which frustrated Reed and the Lady Trojans, Bryant turned the tables and, with a furious rally, extracted a 41-38 victory at Hornet Arena Friday night.
Hot Springs committed nine of its 23 turnovers in the fourth quarter and Bryant more than doubled its score to escape.
Against a packed-in zone, the Lady Hornets struggled to drive to the basket. And, because they were 2 for 16 from 3-point range through three periods, they got frustrated.
“When we did get it in the lane, they did a good job of bodying us up,” acknowledged Bryant head coach Brad Matthews. “We didn’t get a ton of clean looks in there. We think we’ve got good shooters, and, at some point, we’ll make more of those shots.”
The Lady Hornets wound up 4 of 23 from 3-point range but sophomores Natalie Edmonson and Emileigh Muse each hit a clutch 3 to help fuel the comeback.
Bryant’s leading scorer on the season, junior Parris Atkins was limited to just 1 point through three quarters. Taking advantage of the more aggressive defensive approach sparked her to 7 points in the final period including a drive to the basket after Muse collected an offensive rebound. The basket cut the Hot Springs lead to 1 point. And when Atkins followed up with a steal and a layup, the Lady Hornets had the lead.
The Lady Trojans had a chance to regain the lead when Kalariya McDaniel was fouled. But she missed both shots and, with :21.1 left, Bryant senior Kaitlyn Weng converted a pair of free throws.
Reed drove to the basket in the final seconds, hoping to be awarded when she made contact. But no call came. Her shot rimmed out and Bryant’s Brilynn Findley rebounded to seal the victory.
“We were able to get some transition baskets and I think that picked it up,” Matthews observed. “We were so quiet on offense and we couldn’t get anything going. Obviously, we’ve got a lot of work to do on our half-court offense.”
The coach was pleased with the fact that his team out rebounded their guests 41-28.
“When we rebound, we can run,” said Matthews. “I think the key to that was, we started guarding (Reed). She’s really good. We did a very poor job guarding her in the first half. I think she had 7 in the second half, so we did a better job.
“Being able to rebound, being able to get some deflections, being able to get out in transition — that loosens us up a little bit,” he added. “Right now, we play better in transition so we’ve got to try to find ways to get into transition as much as we can.”
Sophomore Lauren Lain sparked the Lady Hornets, helping to keep them as close as they were. She had 14 points and eight rebounds, all on the offensive end. Atkins finished with 8 points. Edmonson had 9 on a trio of 3-pointers. Must finished with 5 points and eight boards.
The Lady Hornets got out to a decent start, building an 8-3 lead that included Edmonson’s first triple, a driving jumper by Muse and a layup by Lain off a steal.
The Lady Trojans only had three players score. Reed had her 25 and Jurnee Hicks had 11. After Hicks’ got her first hoop, Reed knocked down her second 3 to tie that game at 8. A free throw by Atkins had the Lady Hornets up by a point at the first break.
Reed then opened the second quarter with a 3. She would hit three more in the quarter. Bryant only managed 4 points in the period and the Lady Trojans ran out to a 24-13 lead at the half.
Initially, Matthews tried a box-and-one defense to try to slow Reed down in the third quarter. But Reed scored the first 5 points of the third quarter to build that 16-point advantage.
It was 30-15 when the Lady Hornets started to whittle. An offensive-rebound basket by Findley was followed up by a 3 from Edmonson that had Bryant within 10. Hicks hit two free throws to make it 32-20 going into the fourth quarter.
Lain had a pair of stickbacks then made a steal and a layup to cut the lead to 32-27. Reed hit a running jumper with 5:04 to play but that would be the last of her scoring.
Edmonson’s third trey was followed by a turnover. Atkins was fouled with 4:01 left and converted her first free throw in a one-and-one situation. She was fouled on an aggressive blockout by Jalena Griffith. While the officials tried to figure out the situation, Atkins stood near the line. She was awarded the second of her bonus opportunity then another one-and-one. But she missed the back end of the first bonus then missed the front end of the second one-and-one.
It left the Lady Hornets still trailing 34-31.
Another turnover, however, led to Atkins driving and kicking out a pass to Muse, who popped a 3 to tie the game at 34.
Hicks scored inside to put the Lady Trojans back on top. Moments later, she added two free throws to push her team back into the lead 38-34.
Over the final two minutes of the game, however, Atkins took over. She hit a free throw and, when she missed a second shot, Muse confiscated the rebound and fed it back to Atkins for a drive to the rack that made it 38-37.
That led to the steal and layup that put the Lady Hornets out front.
Both teams had chances to change that score. In fact, with :32.9 showing, Kalariya McDaniel was fouled. Given a chance to put her team back on top, she missed both shots. Weng’s clinching free throws followed.
Now 3-1 on the season, the Lady Hornets visit Benton on Tuesday for the annual Saline County Shootout.
LADY HORNETS 41, LADY TROJANS 38
Score by quarters
Hot Springs 8 16 8 6 — 38
BRYANT 9 4 7 21 — 41
LADY TROJANS 38
Reed 9-15 1-2 25, McDaniel 0-6 0-2 0, Valrie 1-2 0-0 2, Hicks 3-8 5-6 11, Frazier 0-3 0-0 0, Griffith 0-1 0-0 0, Erby 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 13-35 (37%) 6-10 (60%) 38.
LADY HORNETS 41
Lain 6-12 2-3 14, Atkins 2-15 4-9 8, Edmonson 3-12 0-0 9, Findley 1-7 1-2 3, Muse 2-6 0-0 5, Kr.Weng 0-1 0-0 0, Taylor 0-2 0-0 0, Ka.Weng 0-0 2-2 2. Totals 14-55 (25%) 9-16 (56%) 41.
Three-point field goals: Bryant 4-23 (Edmonson 3-10, Muse 1-5, Atkins 0-5, Findley 0-2, Kr.Weng 0-1), Hot Springs 6-19 (Reed 6-11, McDaniel 0-4, Hicks 0-2, Valrie 0-1, Griffith 0-1). Turnovers: Bryant 17, Hot Springs 23. Rebounds: Bryant 24-17 (Lain 8-0 8, Muse 3-5 8, Atkins 3-3 6, Findley 2-4 6, Taylor 4-2 6, Ka.Weng 2-0 2, Edmonson 0-1 1, team 2-2 4), Hot Springs 7-21 28 (Reed 3-6 9, McDaniel 1-6 7, Hicks 2-3 5, Frazier 1-4 5, Valrie 0-1 1, Erby 0-1 1). Team fouls: Bryant 10, Hot Springs 15.