For more photos of this event by Rick Nation, go here
Despite playing in the comfy confines of the Hornets’ Nest, the Bryant Hornets just missed too many shots on Tuesday night. And despite they were playing the North Little Rock Charging Wildcats, one of the top teams in the state, they were getting looks they usually knocked down, at least more often.
Still, it wasn’t until the third quarter that the high-flying Wildcats were able to establish a double-digit lead as the Hornets mustered one free throw and one field goal in the period.
They trimmed the margin from 16 back to 9 with a burst of 3’s but North Little Rock responded with a game-breaking 9-0 surge on the way to a 55-37 victory.
“You’ve got to give North Little Rock credit,” said Bryant head coach Mike Abrahamson. “It probably had a lot to do with their defense, although, I thought we got a lot of looks that we like, that we normally make more of. But the fact that we didn’t — even though you think you’re getting good looks, you’ve just got to credit the defense because maybe we were just slightly out of rhythm.
“They’re very good,” he said of North Little Rock. “The athleticism, the length, and the quickness, the ability to get off the floor is just amazing. And they can shoot the ball on top of that.
“I thought we had a good plan,” the coach continued. “We didn’t execute the plan.”
Sophomore Moses Moody finished with 17 points and Spencer Sims added 13 for the Cats, who had to win to remain in a three-way tie for first in the 7A-Central Conference.
Bryant, 11-7 overall and 2-3 in conference, was led by Khalen Robinson’s 13 and 10 by Sam Chumley.
The Hornets were forced into 19 turnovers and were out-rebounded 28-22.
The fact is, it’s two different teams,” Abrahamson observed. “Both can be successful but in different ways. We have to do things that maybe they don’t have to do. We have to block out at a higher level than what we did tonight and, probably, at a lot higher level than North Little Rock ever does just because of their size and athleticism. And we didn’t do it. One of the hardest things in coaching is to get your team to block out.”
The game was tied at 2, 4 and 7 in the first quarter. Sims hit two free throws to snap the last of those ties then added a free throw to make it 11-7 but Robinson’s three-point play with :04.6 left in the period, cut the margin to 1.
Free throws by Camren Hunter and Rodney Lambert evened the game up at 14 after Moody had opened the second quarter with a 3.
A free throw by Moody snapped the deadlock with a free throw and, a drive to the rack by Sims bumped the margin to 17-14. Robinson hit a free throw but Kylon McCollugh scored off the bench as the Cats struggled with foul trouble. A steal and layup by Ray Fresh made it 21-15 and moved Abrahamson to called a timeout.
And, after McCulloch added two free throws, Chumley splashed a 3 to get the Hornets on track again. Robinson drove for a layup to trime the margin to 23-20.
It was 26-21 at the half but North Little Rock scored the first 6 points of the third quarter and, after Robinson connected on a free throw, extended the onslaught to a 12-1 run, building the lead to 38-22 before Chumley beat the buzzer with a 3.
That was the Hornets lone field goal of the quarter as they went 1 for 9 from the field.
“If we hit a couple of those shots in the third quarter, I think we offset that,” Abrahamson said of the North Little Rock surge. “We did some bonehead things coming out after the half. We’re typically better in the second half but we weren’t tonight. A couple of the things that we wanted to do at the beginning of the second half — some of the guys did some other things.
“But, still, if we hit a couple of those shots,” he asserted. “We missed so many seemingly open looks — we’re a team that has to make shots. We don’t have a strong inside presence. We’re guard-heavy. We have to make some shots. If a couple of those go down, maybe we hang in there and it’s a different story. But it ended up kind of getting away from us.”
But not until 3’s by Chumley and Robinson had the Hornets within 40-31 a minute into the final stanza. North Little Rock, at that point, scored the next 7 points to re-extend the lead to 49-31.
Deron Canada scored off an inbounds play for Bryant then Hunter made a steal and layup but Moody answered with a dunk and, after baskets by Sims and Moody, the hay was in the barn. A late layup by Canada set the final score.
The Hornets have now played two of the three first-place teams. They’ll take on the third one when they travel to Conway on Friday.
CHARGING WILDCATS 55, HORNETS 37
Score by quarters
N. Little Rock 11 13 14 17 — 55
BRYANT 10 11 4 12 — 37
CHARGING WILDCATS (15-4, 4-1) 55
Fresh 2-3 0-0 4, Watkins 1-4 0-0 2, Moore 3-12 0-0 6, Moody 7-11 1-2 17, Sims 5-9 3-7 13, Jordan 2-2 0-0 4, McCollugh 1-1 2-2 4, Thrower 1-2 0-0 3, Fudge 1-2 0-0 2. Totals 23-48 (48%) 6-11 (55%) 55.
HORNETS (11-7, 2-3) 37
Hunter 2-8 2-2 6, Robinson 4-10 3-4 13, Chumley 3-8 1-2 10, Lambert 0-4 2-2 2, Canada 3-6 0-0 6, Wallace 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 12-37 (32%) 8-10 (80%) 37.
Three-point field goals: Bryant 5-24 (Chumley 3-7, Robinson 2-7, Hunter 0-6, Canada 0-3, Lambert 0-1), North Little Rock 3-12 (Moody 2-4, Thrower 1-2, Moore 0-3, Sims 0-2, Fresh 0-1). Turnovers: Bryant 19, North Little Rock 11. Rebounds: Bryant 5-17 22 (Chumley 2-3 5, Canada 2-3 5, Robinson 0-4 4, Wallace 0-4 4, Lambert 0-1 1, team 1-2 3), North Little Rock 8-20 28 (Moore 1-4 5, Sims 1-4 5, Moody 2-3 5, Fresh 2-1 3, Watkins 0-3 3, McCollugh 2-1 3, Jordan 0-2 2, Fudge 0-1 1, team 0-1 1). Team fouls: Bryant 11, North Little Rock 14.