For more photos of this event by Rick Nation, go here
The Bryant Lady Hornets and the Fort Smith Southside Lady Mavericks came into Tuesday night’s game at the Hornets’ Nest tied in the 7A-Central Conference standings. So, it figured to be a close game.
But the Lady Hornets turned it into a blowout by out-scoring the visitors 20-6 in the third quarter to add to a 29-20 halftime lead. With a good defensive effort and splendid work on the boards, Bryant eased to a 61-38 victory, the highest point total for the team since a season-opening 72-point effort in a win at White Hall.
Bryant improved to 3-4 in league play, a game behind Little Rock Central for fourth place in the top-heavy conference where three teams, Conway, Fort Smith Northside and North Little Rock are now tied for first at 6-1. Southside dropped to 2-5.
“We really want to make the State tournament,” declared Lady Hornets coach Brad Matthews. “I thought tonight was a needed win to do that. You know, there’s a lot of games left, a lot of scenarios. But the best way to do it is just take care of business.
“Our kids are continuing to work, continuing to get better, continuing to get more experience, continuing to grow,” he noted. “And that’s what you want. It’s the middle of the conference season. We’ve still got growth to go and tonight will help us continue to do that.”
Four Lady Hornets scored in double figures and, for the first time this season, two collected double-digit rebounds. Tierra Trotter and Kalia Walker had 14 points each. Robyn Gordon came off the bench to score 12 to go with 10 rebounds while Celena Martin had 11 points and 14 caroms in the contest. Overall, Bryant out-rebounded Southside 43-26.
“Southside’s dangerous,” Matthews stated. “They’ve got three or four kids that can shoot the 3 really well. They have multiple kids who have had games where they’ve hit four or five 3’s. We knew we had to play good defense. That’s the start. And I thought we contained the ball really well tonight, didn’t give up a lot of penetrate-and-kick. I thought that was really important.
“Robyn and Celena really rebounded well, which allowed us to get out in transition,” he added. “When we’re in transition, that’s when we’re at our best, so the combination of defense, contain the ball and rebounding it and getting it out — I thought that was really a key for us.”
Bryant trailed only briefly in the game. Trotter hit a free throw and, on the missed second shot, Martin rebounded and eventually drove for a basket to make it 3-0.
Southside, with Hannah Rainwater hitting a 3, rallied to go up 5-3. Martin tied it but two free throws by the Lady Mavs’ Melanie Rice had the Lady Hornets down 7-5.
Trotter then came through with back-to-back 3’s.
Southside never got the lead back after that. Erin Graham made a free throw but a stickback by Gordon and a basket by Walker made it 15-11 going into the second quarter.
A free throw by India Atkins and a basket by Martin on an inbounds play increased the lead to 18-11 before Graham scored Southside’s first basket of the second period at the 4:51 mark.
Martin scored off the offensive glass again and, moments later, Trotter took advantage of a turnover to hit a layup to increase the lead to 22-13.
Kelly Carson, who led the Lady Mavs with 10 points, drove for a pair of baskets to trim the margin to 5. But, a driving jumper by Walker bumped the advantage back up. Rice hit a free throw for Southside but Atkins popped a 3 to make it a 9-point advantage again.
In the final minute of the half, Rainwater and Lexie Taylor traded baskets and the Lady Hornets took a 29-20 lead into the locker room.
And when Trotter scored first in the third quarter, Bryant had its first double-digit lead, part of a 13-2 run. Smith interrupted but then Walker scored, Trotter made a steal and converted a three-point play. Martin hit a free throw then Ivory Russ rebounded the missed second shot and got the ball to Walker who nailed a 3 to make it 40-22.
Graham scored to snap Southside’s cold spell but then, over the final four minutes, the Lady Hornets went on a 9-2 tear that ballooned to 15-2 early in the fourth.
Russ and Taylor had free throws down the stretch of the third quarter. Gordon scored 6 points and the only scoring for Southside was a pair of free throws by Carson.
It was 49-26 going into the fourth quarter, which started with Walker nailing a 3. Martin and Gordon combined to force a turnover and Walker hit a layup. The 54-26 lead was the largest of the game.
Over the last two minutes, Matthews cleared the bench as the Lady Hornets closed out the victory.
They host Fort Smith Northside on Friday.
LADY HORNETS 61, LADY MAVERICKS 38
Score by quarters
FS Southside 11 9 6 12 — 38
BRYANT 15 14 20 12 — 61
LADY MAVERICKS (3-14, 2-5) 38
Carson 3-10 3-4 10, Smith 2-4 0-0 5, Rice 1-7 3-4 5, Rainwater 2-8 0-0 5, Graham 4-7 1-4 9, Kleck 2-4 0-0 4, Schmidt 0-4 0-0 0, Jones 0-1 0-0 0, Fondren 0-2 0-0 0. Totals 14-47 (30%) 7-12 (58%) 38.
LADY HORNETS (7-11, 3-4) 61
T.Trotter 5-13 2-5 14, Walker 6-14 0-0 14, Atkins 1-2 1-2 4, Martin 5-8 1-3 11, Russ 0-0 1-2 1, Gordon 6-7 0-1 12, Taylor 1-5 2-2 4, Baker 0-1 0-0 0, Deaton 0-0 0-0 0, S.Trotter 0-0 1-1 1, Adams 0-1 0-0 0, Scifres 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 24-52 (46%) 8-16 (50%) 61.
Three-point field goals: Bryant 5-17 (Walker 2-8, T.Trotter 2-4, Atkins 1-1, Taylor 0-3, Adams 0-1), FS Southside 3-14 (Rainwater 1-5, Carson 1-3, Smith 1-2, Schmidt 0-3, Fondren 0-1). Turnovers: Bryant 16, FS Southside 15. Rebounds: Bryant 19-24 43 (Martin 6-8 14, Gordon 6-4 10, T.Trotter 1-6 7, Atkins 2-2 4, Russ 3-1 4, Walker 0-1 1, Taylor 0-1 1, S.Trotter 0-1 1, team 1-0 1), FS Southside 10-16 26 (Rice 4-3 7, Graham 2-4 6, Carson 1-1 2, Fondren 2-0 2, Rainwater 0-1 1, Kleck 0-1 1, Jones 0-1 1, team 1-5 6). Team fouls: Bryant 16, FS Southside 19.