File photo by Rick Nation
LITTLE ROCK — For their third game in four days, the Bryant Lady Hornets got a lift from the Lauren and Lauryn show on Monday night. Senior Lauryn Taylor, starting for the injured Parris Atkins, was playing in the short corner or the high post against the Mount St. Mary Belles’ zone defense. Sophomore Lauren Lain would dive down from the elbow when Taylor was in the corner or post up inside when Taylor was at the high post. Several times in the game, the duo combined for baskets and, in the second half, when the Belles adjusted to cut Lain off, Taylor would get it in the short corner and, when the defense collapsed, she would kick it back out to one of the Lady Hornets’ 3-point shooters.
Bryant shot 33 3-pointers in the game and made eight, but they also rebounded those misses well. In fact, 17 of their 32 caroms came on the offensive end.
Combine that with a defense that forced a whopping 32 turnovers — some, admittedly unforced — and the Lady Hornets earned their third win in row, 55-25, at the McCauley Center.
Lain wound up with a career high 21 points. She had four offensive boards. Taylor added 4 points but had five or six assists and five rebounds, all on the offensive end.
Bryant improved to 12-9 on the season, 5-7 in conference play, going into a home rematch with Little Rock Southwest tonight then a final showdown with Little Rock Central, which is currently fourth, on Thursday. Mount St. Mary dropped to 0-21 overall, 0-12 in league play. The Belles play Central tonight then Conway on Thursday.
With Monday’s win, coupled with Cabot’s loss to Central in overtime, the Lady Hornets clinched no worse than a 5-seed for State. If they win out, they could move up to a 4.
“Three wins any time of year is good but especially late February, early March,” said Lady Hornets head coach Brad Matthews. “Three wins in four days is really good and we get another opportunity tomorrow to play a game and see if we can get better before the State tournament.”
State is set for Fayetteville High School, starting Tuesday, March 9.
The Lady Hornets were much more aggressive and in rhythm on Monday than they had been on Saturday at Southwest, where they won 35-27.
“At Southwest, we saw some zone and did not execute well at all,” Matthews mentioned. “Sunday, we had an hour and a half practice and besides the shooting part, it was all film work, watching zone offense. And then, on the floor, working on zone offense.
“Just like against Cabot on Friday, we watched film, we practiced, and we carried over,” he said. “I thought our zone offense execution was good and that was, hopefully, because we watched film, we practiced, and we carried over. The more you can do that, the more successful any team is going to be, not just us.”
Freshman point guard Brilynn Findley and sophomore forward Emileigh Muse each had 9 points. Natalie Edmonson added 6. Bryant got 4 points off the bench from Kayla Knight and a basket with four rebounds by Shamya Jordan.
“Lauryn and Lauren inside — we have good shooters — when we make them guard inside, our shooters are just going to be more open and comfortable knocking down 3’s,” Matthews explained. “I thought that was the case as well. But Lauryn and Lauren did a really good job. Shamya and Kayla came in and gave us good minutes.
“I thought we all played well. Defensively, we were active, forcing turnovers.”
The Belles led early by as much as 8-5 with Millie Allgood accounting for 6 of her game-high 10 points during that start. After a timeout, however, the Lady Hornets surged into the lead with a 12-0 run to finish the first quarter. It was sparked by a pair of 3’s by Muse, who also had a team-high eight rebounds.
A stickback by Taylor made it 13-8 then Taylor fed Lain for a basket. With :02.8 left in the quarter, Muse fed Lain for a layup that had Bryant ahead 17-8 going into the second stanza.
A three-point play by the Belles’ Moname Matute started the second quarter but an offensive-rebound basket by Jordan started another bit a run for Bryant. Findley and Edmonson had 3’s as the Lady Hornets finished the half with a 25-11 advantage.
Savanna Hindman scored 5 points early in the third quarter to keep the Bryant lead from getting away at first. But the Lady Hornets, moving the ball and sharing well, pushed the margin to 20.
Lain scored again off a dish from Taylor. She then hit a 12-footer. Edmonson got an assist on a 3 by Muse then Findley fed Lain, who followed up with an offensive-rebound bucket. In the final minute of the quarter, Knight drove for a layup before Allgood broke a five-minute-plus dry spell for the Belles.
It was 36-18 going into the fourth quarter.
Muse fed Lain for a layup then Findley connected on another triple. A steal and layup by Lain increased the margin to 45-21.
The Belles’ Izzy Todd interrupted but, at the other end, Taylor fed Lain, who scored and was fouled. The three-point play made it 48-23.
Allgood answered only to have Bryant close with a 3 from Edmonson. Then, Lain turned it around and fed Taylor for a basket. A jumper in the lane from Knight set the final score, which was Bryant’s largest margin of the game.
Regarding the ankle injury to Atkins, the Lady Hornets’ top scorer for the season, Matthews said, “She wasn’t able to go tonight. We’ll see. (Athletic trainer) Christa (Finney) is doing a great job with her. We’ll see how she is tomorrow morning, tomorrow afternoon and go from there.”
LADY HORNETS 55, BELLES 25
Score by quarters
BRYANT 17 8 11 19 — 55
Mount St. Mary 8 3 7 7 — 25
LADY HORNETS (12-9, 5-7) 55
Lain 10-17 1-5 21, Edmonson 2-6 0-0 6, Findley 3-17 0-0 9, Muse 3-8 0-0 9, Taylor 2-5 0-0 4, Knight 2-4 0-1 4, Jordan 1-3 0-2 2, Johnson 0-0 0-0 0, Horton 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 23-60 (38%) 1-8 (13%) 55.
BELLES (0-21, 0-12) 25
Blakely 0-2 0-0 0, Coca 0-1 0-0 0, Hindman 2-5 0-0 5, Matute 2-3 1-1 5, Allgood 4-8 2-2 10, Brady 0-0 0-0 0, Horras 0-1 0-0 0, Meadors 1-5 0-0 2, Todd 1-6 0-0 3, Thompson 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 10-31 (32%) 3-3 (100%) 25.
Three-point field goals: Bryant 8-33 (Findley 3-16, Muse 3-8, Edmonson 2-6, Jordan 0-2, Knight 0-1), Mount St. Mary 2-12 (Todd 1-6, Hindman 1-3, Blakely 0-2, Horras 0-1). Turnovers: Bryant 14, Mount St. Mary 32. Rebounds: Bryant 17-15 32 (Muse 4-4 8, Taylor 5-0 5, Findley 0-5 5, Lain 4-0 4, Jordan 2-2 4, Edmonson 0-2 2, Knight 2-0 2, Johnson 0-1 1, team 0-1 1), Mount St. Mary 6-21 27 (Allgood 2-7 9, Matute 1-2 3, Brady 0-3 3, Meadors 1-2 3, Coca 0-2 2, Thompson 0-2 2, Hindman 0-1 1, Todd 0-2 2, team 1-2 3). Team fouls: Bryant 8, Mount St. Mary 8.