Photos by Kevin Nagle
Every time the Bryant Hornets freshman team would make a run at the lead, the Conway Blue Wampus Cats made a play to frustrate them and extend their advantage.
The Hornets’ ultimate surge had them within a point at 40-39 with less than three minutes to play. Adarius Washington answered for Conway Blue and, after a Bryant turnover, Trey Tull scored to push the margin to 5.
A basket inside by Blaise Smith, who sparked the Hornets’ rally, made it 44-41 with 1:35 left but the Hornets were unable to score again until Randy Thomas threw in a half-court shot at the buzzer. But free throws by Washington with :04.4 made the 3-pointer too little, too late as the Wampus Cats held on for a 46-44 win.
It was the third loss in a row for the Hornets, now 2-6. Two of those setbacks have been by 2 points. Bryant will try to get back on the winning track on Thursday at home against Little Rock Catholic.
Thomas finished with 16 points and seven rebounds in the game. Smith had 10 points and six boards. Kajuan Robinson come off the bench to score 7 with seven caroms. Henry Terry finished with 6 points, Daelin Drake 4 and Rodney Lambert 2.
Thomas scored the first 5 points for the Hornets including a layup off a nice feed from Lambert to make it 5-4. But that was the last Bryant lead.
Free throws by Tull started a 6-0 spurt for the Cats.
Bryant’s frustrations in the game were illustrated in the subsequent sequence. Kajuan Robinson hit the offensive glass to end a Bryant dry spell and, moments later, he followed his own miss and scored as he was fouled. Though the free throw that would’ve tied it at 10 fell away, Robinson hustled to the rebound off the miss and dished inside to Thomas. His shot, however, was blocked.
The Hornets retained possession and, on the inbounds play, Terry got an open look beyond the arc. It rimmed out.
And after all that effort, Conway Blue’s Xavier Robinson nailed a 3 from the right corner to put his team up 13-9.
Terry scored to start the second quarter and the teams began to trade baskets. Smith’s post-up move with 2:35 left in the half had the Hornets within a pair, 18-16, once again. But Xavier Robinson canned a running jumper and, after one of Bryant’s 21 turnovers, he spashed another trey.
Down 23-16, head coach Tyler Posey called a timeout. When play resumed, Thomas hit a 15-footer and, after a free throw by the Cats’ Peyton Hicks, Smith scored inside to get the margin back down to 4 with :40 left.
A free throw for the Cats made it 25-20 at the half.
Chase Boyd scored the first deuce of the second half for Conway but Kajuan Robinson answered. Hicks and Drake traded free throws then the Hornets forced a turnover that Thomas cashed in off the offensive boards to make it 29-26.
Both teams had repeated chances to change that score but neither did until, with 1:54 to go, Drake drove for a layup to make it a 1-point game again.
The Hornets, however, were unable to score again in the quarter. Xavier Robinson, who led his team with 14 points, hit a free throw. Tommy Grady knocked down an eight-footer and, after a Hornets turnover, Boyd scored to make it 34-28 going into the fourth.
Boyd extended the lead to 8 to start the final eight minutes. Smith and Grady traded buckets then Terry buried a 3 to start Bryant’s final push. Lambert scored off a drive after a Conway turnover, cutting it to 38-35.
Xavier Robinson interrupted the run but a short jumper by Smith and a basket inside by Thomas had the Hornets within 40-39.
The good thing for Bryant is the first round of games against conference teams don’t count in the standings. League games begin Jan. 7.
WAMPUS CATS 46, HORNETS 44
Score by quarters
Conway Blue 13 11 9 12 — 46
BRYANT 9 11 8 16 — 44
WAMPUS CATS 46
Hicks 1-2 3-4 5, Tull 2-6 3-4 7, Boyd 3-12 0-2 6, Washington 2-3 2-2 6, Green 1-1 0-0 2, X.Robinson 5-6 2-4 14, Grady 3-4 0-3 6. Totals 17-34 10-19 46.
Drake 1-3 2-2 4, Lambert 1-4 0-3 2, J.Robinson 0-0 0-0 0, Thomas 6-11 3-4 16, Smith 5-7 0-0 10, K.Robinson 3-5 1-3 7, O’Neal 0-3 0-0 0, Terry 2-4 0-1 6, Chatman 0-2 0-0 0. Totals 18-39 6-10 44.
Three-point field goals: Bryant 2-4 (Terry 1-3, Thomas 1-1), Conway Blue 2-4 (X.Robinson 2-2, Boyd 0-2). Turnovers: Bryant 22, Conway Blue 17. Rebounds: Bryant 13-19 32 (Thomas 4-3 7, K.Robinson 5-2 7, Smith 0-6 6, Lambert 0-3 3, O’Neal 1-1 2, Terry 1-1 2, Chatman 0-2 2, J.Robinson 0-1 1, team 2-0 2), Conway Blue 4-13 17 (Washington 0-4 4, Hicks 0-2 2, Tull 1-1 2, Boyd 1-1 2, Green 0-2 2, X.Robinson 0-2 2, Grady 2-0 2, team 0-1 1). Team fouls: Bryant 12, Conway Blue 11.