Photo courtesy of Bruce Guthrie/Searcy Daily Citizen
BEEBE — The frustrations of the Bryant Lady Hornets continued Thursday morning as they absorbed a 49-36 loss to the Searcy Lady Lions in the consolation round of the Beebe Badger Christmas Classic.
Senior Lania Ratliff, on her way to 9 points in the game to match sophomore Kalia Walker for team-high honors, scored the first 4 points of the game but once Searcy got on the board with a 3-pointer from Kayla Churchwell and Allie Brown followed up with a three-point play, Bryant never led again.
The Lady Hornets followed up a good second half in Wednesday’s game against the Harding Academy Lady Wildcats with a solid first half against Searcy, which led just 24-23 at the half.
But Bryant scored just 13 points in the second half and never quite recovered from an 8-0 start the third quarter by the Lady Lions.
The Lady Hornets’ defense was still pretty tough, forcing 20 turnovers but Searcy out-rebounded them by a whopping 44-23 to make up the possessions. The Lady Lions started the second half by hitting nine of their first 14 shots from the field, establishing a double-digit lead.
Bryant continued to compete without two of its top scorers Raven Loveless and Kelly Williams, who are out with injuries. They’re also two of the three players on the team with much varsity experience coming into the season.
Against Harding, Walker and sophomore classmates Mary Catherine Selig and Allison Steen combined for 32 of Bryant’s 40 points. Against Searcy, that trio accounted for 19 points but Steen was able to gather eight rebounds.
Brown led Searcy with 16 points and nine boards. Churchwell had 15 points and seven rebounds.
After Searcy had taken the early lead, Selig scored inside to tie the game but a three-point play by Kortni Van Winkle kept the Lady Lions ahead. It was 11-7 before Riley Hill popped a 3 for Bryant to make it a 1-point game going into the final two minutes of the first quarter.
Searcy led 15-10 at the first break. After a free throw by D.D. Cooperwood, it was a scramble for a while before Steen blocked a shot by Churchwell and, moments later, drove for a basket to give Bryant some momentum.
Brown and Ratliff traded buckets but a driving bankshot went down for Paige Adams and the Lady Hornets were within 2, 18-16.
Bryant forced a five-second call on an inbounds play to get the ball back but a turnover undermined their chance to tie or take the lead. Churchwell burned them with a 3.
Moments later, however, Adams fed Steen for a basket inside to keep the Lady Hornets close. Brown hit a free throw and followed up with an 18-foot jumper to push the margin to 6.
But Walker countered with a 3 and, following a Brown miss, fed Ratliff for a basket to get the lead down to 24-23. The Lady Hornets forced a turnover but a held ball resulted and it was Searcy’s turn to get the ball. Another Searcy miscue left too little time for Bryant to get a decent shot at the buzzer.
The Lady Hornets got another chance with the first possession of the second half. Searcy forced a turnover, however, and Churchwell’s basket off the offensive boards started the 8-0 run that had the Lady Lions up 31-23.
After a timeout, Selig scored off a feed from Walker and was fouled. Though her free throw rimmed out, the Lady Hornets had steadied themselves. Van Winkle and Selig traded baskets only to have Searcy put together an 8-2 surge to make it 41-29 in the final minute of the third quarter.
Walker hit a jumper in the lane and it was a 10-point game going into the fourth quarter.
But the Lady Hornets were unable to score again until the 2:44 mark of the final period. By then, Searcy had stretched the lead to 16.
Bryant will try to salvage a win in the tourney with a 10 a.m. game on Friday against either Bauxite or Blytheville.
LADY LIONS 49, LADY HORNETS 36
Score by quarters
Searcy 15 9 16 8 — 49
BRYANT 10 13 8 5 — 36
LADY LIONS 49
Brown 5-10 6-7 16, Housley 3-5 0-0 6, Churchwell 5-9 2-2 15, Van Winkle 4-6 1-1 9, Hicks 1-6 0-0 2, Cooperwood 0-2 1-2 1, Branch 0-5 0-3 0, Floyd 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 18-44 10-15 49.
LADY HORNETS 36
Ratliff 4-5 1-3 9, Hill 1-5 2-3 5, Selig 3-8 0-1 6, Walker 3-8 2-2 9, Rogers 0-7 1-3 1, Adams 1-5 0-0 2, Gordon 0-3 0-0 0, Steen 2-5 0-0 4. Totals 14-46 6-12 36.
Three-point field goals: Bryant 2-19 (Hill 1-5, Walker 1-5, Rogers 0-5, Adams 0-3, Gordon 0-1), Searcy 3-9 (Churchwell 3-4, Brown 0-2, Branch 0-2, Hicks 0-1). Turnovers: Bryant 14, Searcy 20. Rebounds: Bryant 9-14 23 (Steen 2-6 8, Hill 0-4 4, Gordon 2-1 3, Ratliff 1-1 2, Selig 2-0 2, Rogers 1-1 2, Walker 1-0 1, team 0-1 1), Searcy 16-28 44 (Brown 3-6 9, Churchwell 1-6 7, Van Winkle 3-4 7, Hicks 0-5 5, Housley 3-1 4, Cooperwood 1-1 2, Branch 2-0 2, team 3-5 8). Team fouls: Bryant 18, Searcy 16.