Hornets notch first win, 55-50
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
After their heartbreaking season-opening loss to Cabot, the Bryant Hornets didn’t sulk or feel sorry for themselves. They went back to work, particularly on their defense.
As a result, they returned to action Friday in their home opener and picked up their first win over a team that’s better than Cabot. Behind 19 points from senior guard Josh Carroll, the Hornets downed the Arkadelphia Badgers 55-50.
“I thought our guys really played much better defensively,” stated Hornets head coach Leo Olberts. “That was the key. We rebounded a lot better, probably against a bigger, more physical, quicker team. We did a good job, being aggressive.”
Carroll also led the team with nine rebounds. Junior center Nathan James had 7 to go with 10 points.
“We realized (against Cabot) that we had to do a better job of going after long rebounds,” Olberts explained. “We didn’t have our guards do as much rebounding at Cabot. But that was a big plus (against Arkadelphia).
“Josh is one of those guys that we’ve got to get the ball to and he’s got to look for his shot,” Olberts added. “The guys did a better job of getting him the ball when we really needed a bucket.”
Carroll had 8 points and James 7 in the fourth quarter when the Hornets turned a 4-point lead into a 9-point advantage with 1:35 left in the game. Each hit a pair of free throws in the last minute to help hold off a late Badgers’ flurry.
The tell-tale run came early in the final period. Carroll nailed a 15-footer to give the Hornets a 38-32 lead and, after an Arkadelphia miss, Joe Whittington made the Badgers pay with a score inside to make it an 8-point game.
After a Badger timeout, Sean Marshall’s 3-pointer cut into the Hornet lead. The Badgers had two chances to get closer but Marshall missed another 3-point try then the Hornets forced a turnover that point guard Matt Thornton cashed in with a driving layup.
Another Arkadelphia miss and Bryant upped the lead to 10 by getting the ball inside to James who scored and was fouled. His free throw made it 45-35 with 4:25 left to play.
The two teams traded baskets until Arkadelphia’s Mario Owens hit a 3 to cut the margin to 7 with 2:04 left. But Carroll answered with a driving jumper to make it 51-42.
After that, Bryant had an answer for every Arkadelphia play. When James converted twice at the line with :08.9 to go, the lead was 55-47 and it made Kevin Dilworth’s last-second 3-pointer merely cosmetic.
In all, the Badgers drilled seven 3-pointers. Three of those came in the first period when they forged an 11-7 lead. But Whittington’s layup off a feed from Carroll as the quarter ended left Bryant within 2.
The Hornets pulled even at 13 when Tad Beene scored inside and, after a Badger miss, Whittington converted a pair of free throws.
The lead seesawed until James followed up a Whittington basket with a steal that led to a trip to the free throw line for Beene who converted twice to make it 21-18. Thornton added a basket off a feed from Matt Brown then James and Carroll contributed free throws in the final minute to complete a 9-0 run to end the half.
Thornton made it an 11-0 run with a 15-foot jumper to start the second half. Bryant had its first double-digit lead at 28-18.
It was 32-22 when Arkadelphia put together the push that whittled the lead to 4 early in the fourth quarter, setting up Bryant’s decisive surge.