Bryant turns up the D to dismiss Lake Hamilton
EDITOR’S NOTE: Because the look back at each day in Bryant athletic history has been so favorably received during the time when there was no sports during the COVID-19 shutdown, BryantDaily.com will continueposting past stories of Bryant athletics either posted on BryantDaily.com (from 2009 to the present) or published in the Bryant Times (from 1998 to 2008).
By ROB PATRICK
Though the 2004-05 Bryant Hornets basketball team only won five games, coaches Mark Smith and Chad Withers remember that squad fondly. It was a team that just couldn’t score but it was arguably as tough defensively as any in recent memory. Opposing teams struggled to reach 50 points against them.
The point guard and leader of that team was Chad Pitts and, when the Hornets of 2007-08 made their debut on Monday, Nov. 12, he sat on the bench with his former coaches.
And perhaps he provided a little inspiration as the Hornets went out and forced 23 turnovers by the Lake Hamilton Wolves, who had to struggle to get to 50, as Bryant rolled to a 65-51 victory.
“I thought they did a real good job,” Smith agreed regarding the defense. “Some of those turnovers were probably unforced but we did things real well. We really, coming in, thought defense was kind of our biggest concern, not being quite sure what we wanted to do defensively. But I thought the guys executed real well defensively. We got good leadership from Zach (Lewis) and Brandon (Cowart) and Hunter (Sample), the guys who have been here. It was just a good team effort, a good win for us.”
Unlike that ‘04-05 team, however, these Hornets can put the ball in the hoop. A season ago, they scored 65 or more just once.
Chad Knight led the way against Lake Hamilton with 20 points and eight other Hornets scored including three players that had just joined the team from football that day.
Cowart, the senior point guard, added 9 points and junior Andrew Tilley had 8.
“For the most part, I think we really played unselfish, moved the ball around and that’s a key to what we want to try to do,” Smith commented. “That’s going to be our bread-and-butter. I thought everyone did a really good job. Chad did what he does well and I thought Brandon played real well. He penetrated well, saw the open man real well, knocked down free throws — did exactly what a point guard’s responsibility is.
“The guys from football came in and gave us a good lift, just their athleticism gives us some different looks,” added the coach. “I thought Andrew Tilley shot the ball really well. He did a really good job. He’s come a long way.”
The Hornets never trailed in the game after Knight drained a 3 to get things started. Sample added a bucket inside and Cowart hit a free throw to make it a 6-0 start.
Lake Hamilton fought back within 9-6 but the Hornets responded with an 11-0 run starting with a short jumper by Knight off a nice feed from Taylor Masters. After a turnover, Masters posted up for a bucket to make it 13-6 going into the second quarter.
Knight and Dijon Benton worked a nice give-and-go to produce the first points of the second stanza. Cowart added a free throw and, after making a steal, Lewis dropped in two more to make it 18-6.
After a Lake Hamilton timeout, Cowart made a steal and Benton hit the glass for a stickback and a 14-point lead.
The Wolves were unable to get the lead below double digits after that. It was just 10 going into the last three minutes of the half but Tilley drained back-to-back 3’s from the left corner and the Hornets led 26-15 at the half.
The lead grew to 15 early in the third quarter. Knight made a steal then took a nice feed from Sample on a backdoor cut for a layup. After another Wolves turnover, Knight followed a teammate’s miss to make it 30-15.
The lead ballooned to 17 before the end of the third quarter which ended with the Hornets up 48-32. It was 50-34 with 6:50 left in the game when Tim Floyd followed a stickback with a pair of free throws then a three-point play that expanded the margin to 23, the largest lead of the game, with 5:10 to go.
Lake Hamilton closed the game out with an 11-4 run as the Hornets subbed.