Defense sparks Lady Hornet win
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
NORTH LITTLE ROCK — The Bryant Lady Hornets weren’t at their best in their season opener Tuesday at Pulaski Oak Grove — offensively, at least. They converted just 35 percent of their shots.
But, then, if you take enough shots, 35 percent will do.
By forcing a whopping 35 turnovers and out-rebounding their hosts 40-32 (including 24 offensive boards), the Lady Hornets attempted all of 62 shots from the field and 20 more from the free throw line on the way to a 59-32 victory.
Oak Grove, by comparison, attempted just 29 field goals to go with 21 free throws.
Possessions, possessions, possessions — defense and rebounding overwhelmed the shooting percentage.
Jennifer Slack scored 22 points, matching Oak Grove’s Samantha Walker for game-high honors. Bree Mann added 9 and Meagan Kennedy, who supplied a spark in the third quarter, 8.
Actually, it wasn’t until that third quarter that Bryant started to shake Oak Grove’s Lady Hornets. With Slack hitting two of her three 3-pointers, Bryant struggled to a 10-3 lead by the end of the first quarter.
Two free throws by Walker were answered by a 9-0 surge for Bryant during which the home team was unable to even attempt a shot. Mann hit two free throws in answer to Walkers then a turnover led to an offensive rebound bucket by Slack. She then combined with sophomore center Yousra Elhagemoussa on a steal that resulted in a trip to the free-throw line for Slack. She converted once to make it 15-5.
After another Oak Grove turnover, Slack was fouled attempting a 3-pointer. She made two of three free throws then Bryant forced another Oak Grove miscue that led to an offensive rebound basket by Elhagemoussa and a 19-5 lead.
Bryant eventually led by as much as 16 in the first half but a late surge allowed Oak Grove get it back to 11. Slack, however, hit a long jumper with :10 left to make it 29-16 at the break.
Though the lead never dwindled down under double-digits, it took awhile for Bryant to put Oak Grove away. It was 33-19 going into the final two minutes of the third quarter. Kennedy then banked in a 3 and Elhagemoussa hit a free throw. Kristen Perkins scored for Oak Grove but Kennedy scored off an inbounds play under the Bryant basket then Haley Stobaugh made a steal that led to a three-point play by Kennedy. In turn, Kennedy came up with a theft that led to a basket by Stobaugh and a 44-21 lead.
Slack kept it going with a steal and a feed to Mann for a layup. Another bit of theft by Slack resulted in a buzzer-beating 3-pointer that made it 49-21 going into the fourth quarter.
And just for a capper, Mann opened the final period with a steal and layup to make it a 30-point bulge.
Oak Grove cut the lead to 24 after Bryant pulled most of its starters but Starr Crow hit a free throw, Jamie Stephens canned a pair of jumpers and Jessica Farrish scored, and with 2:28 to go the 30-point edge had been re-established.