Lady Hornets respond to Watson Chapel rally with decisive second-half surge
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 continueposting 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).
CABOT — The Bryant Lady Hornets had led the Watson Chapel Lady Wildcats by as much as 11 in the first half but that advantage had disappeared late in the third quarter. Watson Chapel had pulled even at 29 then again at 31 and, after a splendid drive to the hoop by Bryant’s Jakeria Otey, LaDajah Scott popped a 3-pointer to give the Lady Wildcats their first lead of the game at 34-33 with 1:53 left in the period.
Otey, whose ball-handling went a long way to rendering Chapel’s full-court press useless (Bryant only committed eight turnovers in the game) posted up for a basket as the Lady Hornets regained the advantage.
At the other end, Scott launched another 3-point shot only to have it blocked by Bryant’s Erica Smith. Morgan Monk rebounded for the Lady Wildcats and got the ball to senior Kierra Cox. But Cox missed her shot as she tried to avoid Smith. The shot rimmed out and Smith hauled down the rebound.
She got the ball to Otey who pushed it forward to Jayla Anderson. With one Lady Wildcat defender back, Anderson drew the defender and fed Aubree Allen for a layup and a 37-34 edge.
As it turned out, the baskets by Otey and Allen sparked a 16-2 blitz for Bryant by midway through the fourth quarter. The Lady Hornets went on to a 54-41 win in the first round of the Cabot Pre-Holiday Invitational Tournament Wednesday night.
The win improved the Lady Hornets to 3-0 and that sequence illustrates to a great extent how they have gotten the season off to such a good start. Smith did not score in the game but, as was the case for every Lady Hornets player that got into the game, she contributed in her own way.
Allen produced with 24 points and 11 rebounds. Otey added 14 points and five boards while Anderson added 10 to go with some stellar defense and effective passing.
But Peyton Weaver, Maddie Baxter, Rachel Miller and Annie Patton had just as much to do with the win — something noted and emphasized by Lady Hornets coach Brad Matthews.
“Everything we do has got to be done as a team,” he explained. “We’ve got to rebound as a team. We’ve got to screen as a team. We’ve got to score as a team.
“How many times has Aubree been on the backside when people press us?” the coach pondered. “Without Peyton doing a good job, without Erica, Jakeria, Jayla, Maddie, Annie getting her the ball, she doesn’t have half the points she has. I think a lot of people see Aubree had a good game — and she did — but I don’t want to lose focus on us doing things as a team because I think that’s the only way we’re going to have success moving forward.”
Bryant advances to the winners bracket semifinal on Saturday at 4 p.m., against the host team. As has been the case up to this point in the season, Bryant is taking another step up in the quality of its opposition on Saturday following wins over Mount St. Mary, Camden Fairview and Chapel.
“We’re a work in progress,” Matthews stated. “Every team is this time of year but I think especially this group.”
After the Lady Hornets grabbed a 4-0 lead, Chapel, spurred by 6-foot freshman Peyton Martin, pulled even at 4. But Otey took a kick-out from Smith and drained a 3 then followed up with a pull-up pop from 12 feet and Chapel head coach Leslie Byrd needed a timeout.
The lead was just 10-7 going into the final minute of the quarter. Baxter hustled for a rebound among much taller players and was fouled with :42.3 showing. She converted the first free throw and, when she missed the second, Miller got great position, rebounded the ball and scored to make it 13-7 going into the second period.
The momentum stayed with Bryant as the second quarter unfolded. Baxter was fouled on a 3-point try and converted two free throws. Moments later, Otey drove for a layup and the first double-digit lead at 17-7.
Cox drove for an answering layup and was fouled. But she missed her free throw and, at the other end, Allen drained a triple to make it an 11-point lead.
Cox fired up and knocked down three treys in the quarter but the Lady Hornets maintained the advantage. The third troika cut the margin to 24-19 but the Lady Hornets beat the press with Anderson finding Allen for a layup and a 26-19 lead at the half.
“We got off to a pretty good start,” acknowledged Matthews. “We were able to get to the rim some. Aubree had a good night offensively but I thought we did a good job getting her the ball. She was open on the block and our kids were able to get it to her.”
Chapel continued to whittle on the lead in the third quarter but was unable to pull even until the 3:30 mark and the Lady Wildcats, as mentioned, led for only seconds.
“You could see us getting better ball movement and involving everybody on our team again late in the third quarter and throughout the fourth,” Matthews observed. “I think we’ve got three, four, five kids that can score in double figures on any given night. That’s something we’ve just got to continue to build on. We got 54 points tonight but I didn’t think we were particularly sharp on offense.”
Bryant’s 37-34 lead going into the fourth quarter was augmented by two free throws from Allen. Scott hit a jumper from the corner to interrupt the surge but those 2 points were Chapel’s only production between the 1:53 mark of the third quarter and 3:30 of the fourth — over six minutes.
Allen answered Scott’s hoop with a three-point play. Baxter made a steal and a free throw and Anderson fed Allen for another close-range bucket to make it 45-39.
Chapel had the ball knocked loose in its front court and while one of the Lady Wildcats stepped back from the ball figuring it was on its way out of bounds near the time line, Anderson flashed past her, snatched the ball a step from the sideline and dashed the other way for a layup and forced another Watson Chapel timeout with 4:35 left to play.
Monk misfired at the free throw line and Allen capped off the blitz with a short jumper, making it 49-36.
Megan Moore finally ended the Chapel drought with a pair of free throws but Allen fed Anderson for a short jumper in response. Martin hit a 3 with 2:55 left but that was the last of the Lady Wildcats’ scoring.
Anderson scored again off an assist from Otey who would go on to add a free throw to set the final score. One last Chapel turnover and the Lady Hornets spread the floor and ate up the final minute of the contest.
“It was a good win,” Matthews declared. “Watson Chapel has a great program. Now we’ve got a tough Cabot team Saturday.”
LADY HORNETS 54, LADY WILDCATS 41
Score by quarters
BRYANT 13 13 11 17 — 54
Watson Chapel 7 12 15 7 — 41
Player fg-fga ft-fta reb fls pts
Otey 5-10 3-4 0-5 5 2 14
Anderson 5-7 0-0 1-2 3 2 10
Weaver 0-3 0-0 0-1 1 0 0
Allen 9-17 5-7 2-9 11 2 24
Smith 0-2 0-2 1-4 5 2 0
Baxter 0-2 4-7 1-0 1 1 4
Miller 1-1 0-0 1-1 2 0 2
Patton 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 1 0
Team 3-1 4
Totals 20-42 12-20 9-23 32 10 54
WATSON CHAPEL 41
Player fg-fga ft-fta reb fls pts
Cox 5-17 1-3 0-4 4 1 15
Cole 0-6 1-1 2-0 2 2 1
Moore 0-2 2-2 0-0 0 3 2
Martin 7-9 0-2 3-6 9 2 15
Miles 1-3 1-2 2-3 5 1 3
Scott 2-4 0-0 0-1 1 1 5
Sargent 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 4 0
Monk 0-2 0-4 2-0 2 2 0
Team 1-3 4
Totals 15-43 5-14 10-17 27 16 41
Three-point field goals: Bryant 2-8 (Otey 1-2, Allen 1-2, Weaver 0-3, Baxter 0-1), Watson Chapel 6-19 (Cox 4-11, Scott 1-2, Martin 1-1, Moore 0-1, Monk 0-1). Turnovers: Bryant 8, Watson Chapel 14.