North Little Rock too much for Lady Hornets

CABOT — As fun and wonderful as Wednesday was when the Bryant Lady Hornets surprised the Bentonville Lady Tigers and sent them back to northwest Arkansas, Friday was not.

It’s one thing when you face a team with more size. You might be able to out-quick them, out-execute them and shoot well enough to knock them off.

And it’s one thing when you face a team that’s quick and athletic. If you can withstand their pressure defense and keep them off the boards, you might be able to execute and shoot your way past them.

But when you face a team that’s much bigger as well as quick and athletic and deep, you’re up against it. And your only chance is if you can play nearly perfect, maybe get their bigs in foul trouble, and have one of those days where all the 50-50 stuff goes your way.

The North Little Rock Lady Charging Wildcats are one of those latter teams. They started athletic players that were 6-3 and 6-2 and brought another 6-2 off the bench — athletic 6-2, 6-3. Plus they had perimeter players aplenty including one of the best in the state, Kyra Collier.

And when the officiating seems, let’s say, benignly uninterested — well, the Lady Hornets were up against it. There’s been a trend that even if you block out, if the player you block out goes up over you, there’s rarely an over-the-back call.

North Little Rock had 11 offensive rebounds in the first half, 21 rebounds altogether, to Bryant’s seven. For the game, the Lady Cats out-boarded the Lady Hornets 45-26.

And the Lady Hornets shot just two free throws in the entire game. Those came in the fourth quarter.

To make it even tougher, Bryant shot just 20 percent from the field (11 of 55). The result was the end of their season, a 60-26 loss.

“North Little Rock’s really, really good,” acknowledged Bryant coach Brad Matthews. “I thought, defensively, they did a really good job keeping us out of rhythm. We weren’t able to execute the way we wanted to and a lot of that’s on me. I’ve got to do a better job. I should’ve done a better job getting our kids clean looks. We didn’t shoot a high enough percentage. They rebound and transition, and they offensive rebound really well.

“That’s a big group and a very talented group,” he added. “I know those kids work really hard.

“I was proud of our kids’ effort,” the coach concluded. “We had a big win Wednesday, a good day of prep Thursday. I thought our kids fought hard and I’m very proud of our kids’ effort.”

Raija Todd scored 15 points for Bryant, Emily Ridgell had 9 and Taylor Hill 2 to account for the Lady Hornets’ scoring.

North Little Rock had eight players score, led by Collier’s 18 and 14 to go with 12 rebounds by the 6-2 Yo’Myris Morris.

On baskets by Todd and Ridgell, the Lady Hornets had a 4-3 lead early only to have North Little Rock close out the first quarter with a 16-2 rush. Ridgell’s 18-footer was the only interruption.

To start the second quarter, the Lady Cats extended the run with a 7-0 start and had a 20-point lead by the 6:01 mark.

The lead was 32-10 before Todd drilled a 3. Mackenzie Tillman scored for North Little Rock but back-to-back baskets by Todd had the lead down to 34-17 at the half.

Collier opened the second quarter then Todd hit another triple to make it 36-20 but that 16-point deficit was as close as the Lady Hornets could get the rest of the way.

“I thought, early on, the first two or three minutes, we kept them out of rhythm some and really that was our plan on defense, to try to keep them out of rhythm so they never really got comfortable running offense,” Matthews said. “But it didn’t work. Give them credit.”

The Lady Hornets finish the season 11-16 and, as one of the last eight teams standing, a long way from where they started.

LADY CHARGING WILDCATS 60, LADY HORNETS 26

Scory by quarters

BRYANT      6.    11.    6.    3 — 26

NLR.            19.   15.    10.   16 — 60

LADY HORNETS (11-16) 26

Todd 6-25 0-0 15, Ridgell 4-14 0-0 9, Martin 0-3 0-0 0, Rogers 0-1 0-2 0, Miller 0-6 0-0 0, Loveless 0-5 0-0 0, Hill 1-1 0-0 2, Patton 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 11-55 (20%) 0-2 (0%) 26.

LADY CHARGING WILDCATS (24-5) 60

Neasley 0-3 0-0 0, Hawkison 3-10 1-2 8, Morris 6-8 2-2 14, Collier 7-14 3-4 18, Jones 3-7 1-2 7, Settles 1-3 0-0 2, Sadler 1-2 1-2 3, Brown 0-1 0-0 0, Kimble 3-6 0-0 6, Ford 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 25-57 (44%) 8-12 (67%) 60.

Three-point field goals: Bryant 4-16 (Todd 3-10, Ridgell 1-4, Miller 0-2), North Little Rock 2-12 (Hawkison 1-3, Collier 1-3, Neasley 0-2, Kimble 0-2, Brown 0-1, Ford 0-1). Turnovers: Bryant 16, North Little Rock 16. Rebounds: Bryant 12-14 26 (Loveless 3-5 8, Miller 2-3 5, Ridgell 0-3 3, Rogers 2-1 3, Martin 2-0 2, Todd 0-1 1, team 3-1 4), North Little Rock 15-30 45 (Morris 5-7 12, Collier 3-8 11, Jones 4-2 6, Hawkison 2-2 4, Settles 0-2 2, Tillman 0-2 2, Sadler 1-1 2, Neasley 0-1 1, Kimble 0-1 1, team 0-4 4). Team fouls: Bryant 11, North Little Rock 8.

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