Lady Tigers’ length puts Lady Hornets off their game

For more photos of this event by Rick Nation, go here

Tierra Trotter (1) tries to drive through Little Rock Central’s “trees.” (Photo by Rick Nation)

When your team has just one player taller than 5’6” and your opponent has only one player smaller than 5’6”, you’re at a disadvantage in basketball. And when they’ve got a pair of 6’2” players, it’s going to be a struggle to score unless you have a hot night from outside.

That’s where the Bryant Lady Hornets found themselves on Friday night against the Little Rock Central Lady Tigers. Both teams came in with 4-5 records, tied for fourth place in the 7A-Central Conference. But it was just a bad match-up for the sophomore-laden Lady Hornets.

The 3’s weren’t falling and when they attacked the basket, it was a struggle to get shots up over the height. Central’s twin towers of Erynn Barnum and Mikelle Cole hardly had to leave the floor to block shots when the Lady Hornets attacked a gap. Thus, Central only committed 11 fouls and Bryant only attempted 12 free throws.

And, as a result, the Lady Hornets connected on just 6 of 39 shots from the field including 1 of 13 from 3-point range, a disastrous 15 percent overall while turning the ball over 23 times.

Kalia Walker gets to the hoop around Central’s Ariyanna Hall. (Photo by Rick Nation)

“It’s their size not their athleticism,” said Bryant head coach Brad Matthews. “They got in a zone press tonight and we really struggled finding the gaps. Not only are they tall but they’re so long. That’s really what we’ve struggled with. We try to find the windows and the gaps in their zone press. We didn’t do a very good job early and that kind of got us behind the eight-ball.”

To start the game, the Lady Tigers went on a 20-2 run only interrupted by India Atkins’ 12-foot jumper after Central had scored the first 7 points.

“The first four or five possessions, we got in the lane,” Matthews noted. “Finishing over their size is tough. They altered some shots. Their length and size really made us uncomfortable tonight.”

On the other end, when the Lady Tigers attacked the basket, they either scored or got fouled or both. They wound up shooting 19 of 29 even though the Lady Hornets played zone all night.

Atkins wound up leading the Lady Hornets with 6 points. Kalia Walker, Ivory Russ and Lexi Taylor added 3 apiece.

It was 18-2 after a quarter and 20-2 before a free throw by Bryant’s 6-1 junior Robyn Gordon. Barnum, who posted game-highs with 20 points and seven rebounds, hit a 3 and it was 23-3 before Atkins score again on a drive for the Lady Hornets’ second field goal of the game.

Ivory Russ attempts a free throw. (Photo by Rick Nation)

By halftime, Central’s lead was 31-6.

Walker hit a free throw and Atkins scored again to cut it to 31-9 but Lauryn Pendleton canned a pull-up jumper and Barnum scored again.

Taylor hit a 3 but the Lady Hornets just couldn’t make much headway as they tried to dig out of the hole. The Lady Tigers led 40-13 going into the fourth quarter.

The Lady Hornets turned the ball over to start the final stanza, but Atkins took a charge against Barnum and Walker went to the line where she converted both shots. After Cole missed twice at the line, Martin scored inside off a nice feed from Atkins to make it 40-17. Russ added a basket late but Central closed out the win to improve to 14-8 overall and 5-5 in the conference.

Bryant, now 8-13 and 4-6, will play at Fort Smith Southside on Tuesday with a chance to clinch a spot in the Class 7A State Tournament.


Score by quarters

LR Central        18        13        9          4 — 44

BRYANT          2          4          7          6 — 19

LADY TIGERS (14-8, 5-5) 44

Barnum 7-19 4-7 20, Hall 0-3 1-2 1, Smith 1-8 1-2 4, Cole 1-4 1-4 3, Pendleton 2-5 8-10 12, Green 0-4 2-2 2, Lewis 0-0 0-0 0, Ashford 0-0 2-2 2. Totals 11-43 (26%) 19-29 (66%) 44.

LADY HORNETS (8-13, 4-6) 19

Trotter 0-4 1-2 1, Walker 0-9 3-4 3, Atkins 3-12 0-2 6, Martin 1-4 0-0 2, Russ 1-4 1-2 3, Taylor 1-5 0-0 3, Gordon 0-1 1-2 1, Scifres 0-0 0-0 0, Baker 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 6-39 (15%) 6-12 (50%) 19.

Three-point field goals: Bryant 1-13 (Taylor 1-5, Walker 0-5, Trotter 0-2, Atkins 0-1), LR Central 3-11 (Barnum 2-4, Smith 1-4, Hall 0-1, Pendleton 0-1, Green 0-1). Turnovers: Bryant 23, LR Central 14. Rebounds: Bryant 9-23 32 (Russ 1-5 6, Martin 1-4 5, Trotter 0-4, Atkins 3-1 4, Gordon 1-3 4, Walker 0-3 3, Taylor 1-1 2, Scifres 1-0 1, team 1-2 3), LR Central 12-26 38 (Barnum 1-6 7, Pendleton 1-5 6, Cole 1-4 5, Green 2-2 4, Smith 0-3 3, Lewis 1-2 3, Ashford 1-1 2, Hall 1-1 2, team 4-2 6). Team fouls: Bryant 19, LR Central 11.

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