Lady Hornets rally to tie twice only to be beaten at the overtime buzzer

MORRILTON — Though they erased a 13-point deficit in the final 2:40 of regulation then wiped out a 6-point hole in overtime, the Bryant Lady Hornets just couldn’t get over the hump, couldn’t gain a lead during those tremendous comebacks. So when Grace Dougan of the Clarksville Lady Panthers took an inbounds pass near midcourt with :06.5 left in overtime and drove to a buzzer-beating layup, it left Bryant on the wrong side of a 47-45 final in the first round of the Morrilton Invitational Tournament Tuesday night.

And because a team dropped out of the tournament at the last minute, the Lady Hornets won’t be going back to Morrilton for the consolation bracket. Clarksville advanced to play the host team tonight.

For much of the game, the Lady Hornets seemed snake-bit. Layups weren’t going in, short jumpers rimmed out, even free throws refused to fall. They had stayed close because Clarksville wasn’t faring much better from the field (though the Lady Panthers were more successful at the free-throw line).

But as the fourth quarter unfolded, Clarksville started getting some separation as Bryant’s frustrations mounted. When Dougan, who finished with 18 points and 13 rebounds, converted a three-point play with 3:09 left, the Lady Panthers led 34-21. At that point, the Lady Hornets were 7 of 34 from the field — that’s just under 21 percent. And they hadn’t taken a bunch of wild shots. The vast majority were shots they have ordinarily made. Too, they’d only been able to convert 3 of 10 at the free-throw line.

It was just that kind of night.

But they didn’t get down about it. They kept battling tenaciously to give themselves those late chances to win.

With 2:27 left in regulation, Annie Patton hit a layup off a feed from Kendal Rogers to start the first comeback. Bryant jumped into a press with trapping and Clarksville began to struggle. After the first turnover, Raija Todd knocked down a 3 to cut the lead to single digits, 34-26.

After a Bryant timeout, Todd, who led all scorers with 27 points, made a steal. Destiny Martin drove to the hoop only to have her shot blocked by Dougan. At the other end, Janna Burt hit a free throw, which proved to be Clarksville’s only points of the last three minutes of the game.

An offensive-rebound basket by Raven Loveless had the Lady Hornets within 7 with 1:23 to go — still a big hill to climb.

Bryant head coach Brad Matthews took another timeout at the 1:20 mark and, on the ensuing inbounds play, the Lady Hornets forced a turnover on a five-second call, keeping Clarksville from getting it in.

A Bryant miss was followed up by a steal from Martin and a trip to the line for sophomore Kelly Williams, who had come in to help on the press. But she was fouled going after an offensive rebound and promptly converted both ends of the one-and-one.

Clarksville helped out by missing a shot and, with :33 left, Todd drained the fourth of her five 3’s in the game. Almost immediately after that, Martin made another steal and this time hit the layup tying the game at 35 with :16 left.

Clarksville got a timeout to try to set up a try at a winning basket but Todd blocked a shot inside by Sam Childers. The ball went out of bounds off the Lady Panthers with :05.8 showing.

Matthews called his final timeout to set something up but the Lady Panthers put a double-team on Todd after she got the inbounds pass and she couldn’t get into the front court for a decent attempt.

The Lady Hornets had two shots at taking the lead at the start of the overtime. The second miss was rebounded by Dougan who was fouled. She converted two shots to put her team back up. Todd, however, knotted it again with a drive to the hoop.

Bryant forced a turnover but the lid was back on the basket for the Lady Hornets who missed two chances to go up.

Clarksville took a timeout with 2:00 left. At that point, Bryant was 1 of 5 from the field in the extra period while the Lady Panthers had been unable to even attempt a shot.

When play resumed, the inbounds pass went off the hands of two Clarksville players, though it was ruled that neither possessed it. So when the ball ricocheted into the backcourt and the Lady Panthers’ Lindsey Hover tracked it down, it was ruled that it was not a backcourt violation, much to the dismay of the Bryant fans.

And to add to the ire, Hover gunned in a 3 to give her team the lead with 1:42 remaining.

Over the next 17 seconds, the Lady Hornets got to the free-throw line twice, on either side of a steal by Rogers. Of the four potential points, they got just one.

Hover then added to the 2-point lead and, after a Bryant miss, Burt converted twice at the line to put Bryant in a 44-38 hole with :58.2 left.

But somehow the Lady Hornets rallied to tie once again. This comeback started with an offensive-rebound bucket by Loveless, who finished with 7 points and 13 boards.

After a Bryant timeout, it appeared the Todd had a steal as she and Childers collided going after an inbounds pass. Todd wound up with the ball, both players went to the floor and a foul was called on Todd. As Matthews protested, Childers went to the line and made one of her two shots to make it 45-40 with :40.8 on the clock.

Todd trimmed the margin with a driving jumper at :27.8 then, trying to break Bryant’s pressure, Burt traveled with :16.4 to go.

The Lady Hornets had a chance to tie it and with a 3-point bank shot by Todd, did just that with :10 left. Clarksville called its final timeout at :06.5 and wound up with the winning hoop.

Bryant’s last lead had been 5-3 with 1:42 left in the first quarter on the strength of a drive up the baseline for a basket by Martin and a three-point play by Todd.

Hover answered with a 3 then Childers scored off a drive to put Clarksville up. Loveless, after taking a feed from Martin, hit a free throw in the final seconds of the opening period to make it 8-6.

And when Todd drained a long jumper (with a toe on the 3-point line), the game was tied 8-8.

Hover, who finished with 12 points, drove for a basket to put her team back in the lead and the Lady Panthers maintained the lead until halftime. The margin grew to 19-11 before Todd hit a 3 in the final minute of the half to make it 5-point difference.

Emily Ridgell combined with Todd to force a turnover as the third quarter unfolded. Ridgell drilled a baseline jumper to trim the margin further. Dougan hit a free throw but Todd answered with a 3 that had the game tied at 19.

Both teams had three chances to break that tie but it wound up being Burt who finally did so, hitting two free throws. The Lady Panthers eventually pushed the lead to 25-19 going into the fourth quarter as Bryant went the final 6:51 of the quarter without a point despite working for some good looks.

Todd drove for a basket to start the fourth quarter but then Clarksville went on a 9-0 run to build the 13-point margin that eventually evaporated.

The loss dropped Bryant to 3-3 on the season. The Lady Hornets will play once more before the Christmas break. They’ll travel to Watson Chapel on Tuesday, Dec. 15.

LADY PANTHERS 47, LADY HORNETS 45

Score by quarters

Clarksville      8          11       6          10       12 — 47

BRYANT          6          8          5          16       10 — 45

LADY PANTHERS (3-2) 47

Dougan 6-11 6-7 18, Childers 2-9 1-4 5, Sanders 0-0 0-0 0, Hover 5-10 0-0 12, Burt 1-8 5-8 7, Payne 1-4 0-0 3, Myers 1-4 0-0 2, Williamson 0-0 0-0 0, Gearhart 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 16-46 (35%) 12-19 (63%) 47

LADY HORNETS (3-3) 45

Todd 10-28 2-7 27, Ridgell 1-10 0-0 2, Martin 2-7 0-0 4, Rogers 0-1 1-2 1, Patton 1-3 0-0 2, Loveless 3-6 1-4 7, Williams 0-1 2-2 2. Totals 17-56 (30%) 6-15 (40%) 45.

Three-point field goals: Bryant 5-12 (Todd 5-11, Ridgell 0-1), Clarksville 3-15 (Hover 2-6, Payne 1-2, Childers 0-5, Dougan 0-2, Burt 0-1). Turnovers: Bryant 18, Clarksville 28. Rebounds: Bryant 12-24 36 (Loveless 6-7 13, Martin 0-8 8, Ridgell 0-5 5, Todd 1-2 3, Patton 2-1 3, Rogers 0-1 1, Williams 1-0 1, team 2-0 2), Clarksville 10-32 42 (Dougan 2-11 13, Burt 2-5 7, Hover 0-5 5, Childers 3-1 4, Payne 0-4 4, Myers 0-3 3, Sanders 1-1 2, Williamson 0-2 2, team 2-0 2). Team fouls: Bryant 16, Clarksville 17. Technical foul: Bryant, Ridgell.

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