Jacuzzi, Slack lead Bryant girls to 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
The Bryant Lady Hornets had a size advantage over the Pulaski Oak Grove Lady Hornets so Bryant coaches Carla Crowder and Mark Scarlett wanted to get the ball inside early and often when the two teams met to open the 2000-2001 season at the Bryant gym Tuesday night.
Of course, it’s one thing to get the ball in there, another to have a player take advantage of the situation.
Kim Jacuzzi, Bryant’s 6-1 senior, did just that, however, scoring a game-high 20 points and pulling down 12 rebounds to lead her team to a 56-41 victory.
“We ran our offense, we knew they were going to be soft in the post,” Scarlett, the new assistant to Crowder, noted. “We wanted to establish Kim early. She played a solid game. We knew she was going to have to play a solid game. Oak Grove is well-coached. They did an excellent job and played very intense the first half. They came ready to play.”
The two teams were even at the half, in fact, despite Jacuzzi’s 12 points.
“It seems like, so far, we’re not doing a good job being a first-half team,” Scarlett said, referring back to Bryant’s pre-season game against Hot Springs. “But we turn it on in the second half. We’ve got great senior leadership with (Candice) Croy, (Joanie) Robideaux and Jacuzzi. They did a great job tonight.”
Both Robideaux and Croy added 9 points including a pair of 3-point buckets that helped keep the middle open for Jacuzzi, sophomore post Amber Stephenson (4 points), sophomore Jennifer Slack and junior Bree Mann (when she was available). Mann struggled with foul trouble, picking up four first-half fouls. But Slack and Stephenson helped pick up the . . . well, slack. Stephenson helped out with 5 points and Slack pumped in 8 with a game-high 15 rebounds.
Neither team shot particularly well. Bryant was 19 for 55 from the field (35 percent) and Oak Grove was 13 of 55 (24 percent), leaving room for a lop of rebounds. Usually, with a total of 38, it would figure that Oak Grove had the better rebounding night. But Bryant’s Lady Hornets gathered a whopping 53 caroms.
“And Bree had six rebounds and played just one quarter,” Scarlett noted. “If she had played four quarters, there’s no telling how many rebounds we would’ve gotten.”
Though it was tight all the way, Bryant had the upper hand for most of the first half. Leading 8-7 late in the first period, Stephenson scored down low then Robideaux drilled a trey to up the advantage to 6, but that was as large a lead as the Lady Hornets would have in the first half.
The game was tied at 13 early in the second period but Slack was fouled after grabbing an offensive rebound and put Bryant ahead again. That edge was maintained until Oak Grove’s Samantha Wilkins hit two free throws with :51 left to tie it at 23.
But when Robideaux opened up the second half with a driving layup to snap the deadlock, Bryant was ahead for good.
“What got us going was the same thing,” Scarlett said. “We get in the locker room at halftime, we tell ‘em it’s time to turn it up. We hit a couple of shots early (in the second half), we start going back and running our offense and getting Kim back involved and that was it.”
The defense came forward too. Oak Grove managed just one field goal in 13 attempts in the third quarter.
Bryant led 25-24 after a free throw by Oak Grove’s Katrina Walker but Haley Stobaugh, who drew a second-half starting nod, canned a 12-foot jumper, Robideaux made a steal and Slack hit the offensive glass for a bucket to make it 29-24.
After two free throws by Wilkins, Jacuzzi grabbed the carom off a teammate’s miss and was fouled. She converted once then Bryant forced an Oak Grove turnover and Robideaux cashed in with a 3 to make it 33-26.
It was 36-31 going into the fourth quarter and that’s when Bryant began to pull away, scoring the first 9 points of the final period.
A steal by Robideaux that produced a trip to the free-throw line started the quarter, then Mann, back in action, made a nice move to the hole using a behind-the-back dribble and was fouled. She converted twice to make it 39-31. Moments later, Slack rifled a pass into the post and Jacuzzi turned it into a three-point play and the first double-digit lead of the game with 6:46 left to play.
Croy capped the blitz with a 3-pointer to make it 45-31.
Eventually, the Lady Hornets built a lead of as much as 22 before Crowder emptied her bench.
Bryant’s next game will be at Searcy on Tuesday, Nov. 21.