Lady Tigers crash the boards to pull away from Lady Hornets down the stretch

File photo by Rick Nation

LITTLE ROCK — Despite 33 points and 15 rebounds from Parris Atkins, the Bryant Lady Hornets could not stay ahead of the Little Rock Central Lady Tigers on Tuesday night. Central outscored the Lady Hornets 14-8 in the fourth quarter, which started with the two teams tied at 42, to extract a 56-50 win.

The Lady Tigers attempted 25 three-pointers in the game and made just two. But they attacked the offensive boards and collected 18, often turning them into points.

Jack and crash.

“Down the stretch, we just got beat on the boards too much,” acknowledged Lady Hornets coach Brad Matthews. “That’s a team thing. That’s not just one or two kids. We have to rebound as a team. 

“Our initial defense I didn’t think was that bad,” he stated. “It was good at times. You’ve got to be able to keep people off the boards late in the game. I thought that was the difference.

“It was very disappointing because I thought we were in a good spot to win the game,” the coach added. “To beat a good team on the road, I thought we were right there. We just didn’t finish it off on the rebounding part of it.”

Bryant trailed just 45-44 with 5:53 left in the game. But the Lady Hornets didn’t score again until Atkins drove for a bucket with 1:41 left. Still, that brought Bryant within 3 at 51-48, a single possession game.

After a timeout, however, Central scored the next 5 points starting with an offensive rebound bucket by Jordan Marshall. Elyse Smith hit a free throw then, after the Lady Hornets missed twice at the charity stripe, Smith converted twice to extend the lead to 56-48 before Atkins scored just before the end of the game.

While Bryant didn’t have anyone other than Atkins score more that 5 points, Central had three players in double figures, led by Arkansas State commit Lauryn Pendleton with 18. Marshall finished with 15 off the bench. Smith had 10.

It looked like Bryant’s game for much of the first half. Natalie Edmonson scored the first basket of the game off a feed from Brilynn Findley. Atkins then scored the next 6 points as the Lady Hornets got off to an 8-0 start.

Atkins continually burned the Lady Tigers’ man-to-man defense, beating them off the dribble and taking it to the rack. She had 12 in the first quarter and when Emileigh Muse hit a 3 with :10 left, the Lady Hornets held a 15-7 lead.

Bryant’s lead grew to as much as 10 early in the second quarter. Pendleton opened the scoring in the period, but Findley whipped a pass inside to Lauren Lain. Lillian Jackson scored off the offensive glass, but Findley found Lain again then Atkins drove for a bucket that made it 21-11.

Central however went on a 9-0 run and trail just 21-20.

But Atkins scored the next 7 points to push the margin to 28-20. Pendleton, in response, scored 5 points in the final 1:45 and the game went to the break with Bryant ahead 28-25.

“We got off to a good start,” said Matthews. “They came out in ‘man’ and I thought our kids executed really well. They got out of their man, went to a 1-3-1. I thought we executed there really well.

“We had a little dry spell midway through the second when they went to their 1-2-2,” he noted. “We just didn’t attack it as well as we needed to.”

Still, the coach said, “We were in a good spot at half.”

The Lady Tigers scored the first 6 points of the third quarter but a three-point play by Atkins had the game tied at 31. Marshall and Muse traded baskets then Atkins drained a 3 to put the Lady Hornets back on top 36-33.

The teams traded baskets and the game went to the fourth deadlocked. 

Bryant missed its first five shots of the final period. Central took advantage to build a 49-44 lead. Twice the Lady Hornets cut the margin to 3 but they could get no closer.

“Our lack offense there for a few minutes — you know, they’re a really good team. They’re really talented. They’re long. They’re athletic. If they get in a big spread-out zone, it’s hard to find the gaps all the time. And they cover so much ground. They’re a really good team. They’ve beaten some really good teams this year.”

The Lady Hornets play their final home game this Friday against Little Rock Southwest.


Score by quarters

BRYANT           15        13        14        8 — 50

LR Central       7          18        17        14 — 56

LADY HORNETS (9-8, 2-6) 50

Findley 1-5 0-0 3, Edmonson 2-8 0-0 5, Atkins 13-24 5-9 33, Muse 2-7 0-0 5, Taylor 0-1 0-0 0, Lain 2-5 0-2 4. Totals 20-50 (40%) 5-11 (45%) 50.

LADY TIGERS (9-10, 4-5) 56

Stuckey 0-5 0-0 0, Smith 3-14 5-7 12, Pendleton 6-13 6-7 18, Lambert 0-0 0-0 0, Kanaday 0-1 0-0 0, Jackson 3-4 0-0 6, Marshall 7-17 1-2 15, Sasser 1-7 2-4 5, Johnson 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 20-61 (33%) 14-20 (70%) 56.

Three-point field goals: Bryant 5-16 (Atkins 2-3, Edmonson 1-7, Muse 1-5, Findley 1-1), LR Central 2-25 (Smith 1-8, Sasser 1-3, Stuckey 0-5, Pendleton 0-4, Marshall 0-4, Kanaday 0-1). Turnovers: Bryant 16, LR Central 9. Rebounds: Bryant 13-25 38 (Atkins 4-11 15, Lain 2-5 7, Muse 2-1 3, Edmonson 0-2 2, Findley 1-1 2, Taylor 1-1 2, team 3-4 7), LR Central 18-20 38 (Jackson 5-3 8, Marshall 4-2 6, Smith 1-4 5, Stuckey 1-3 4, Pendleton 1-3 4, Sasser 2-2 4, Johnson 1-2 3, Lambert 1-0 1, team 2-1 3). Team fouls: Bryant 15, LR Central 11.

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