CONWAY - After starting the season 5-0, the Benton Lady Panthers have dropped their last two contests, losing their last 43-27 to the West Memphis Lady Blue Devils on Thursday in a consolation game of the John Stanton Wampus Cat Invitational. Benton lost 57-36 to North Little Rock in the first round on Monday.
“We got outworked on the boards,” Benton Coach Jerry Chumley said. “We worked on that and made an emphasis the last two days, but for whatever reason we didn’t stick them. We did at times, but a team like that you have to do it every time or they’re going to eat you up.”
West Memphis dominated the rebounding line 30-17 giving the Lady Blue Devils multiple second-chance opportunities. After doubling North Little Rock up in the rebounding department on Monday in the first half, the Lady Panthers have had trouble keeping their opponents off the offensive glass. North Little Rock outrebounded Benton 11-6 in the second half Monday.
“I’m disappointed in that, but I thought we played hard, thought we competed,” Chumley said against West Memphis. “But you lose a battle like that on the boards, it’s not good. Your chances of winning are very slim.”
Throw in the 15 turnovers against West Memphis – Benton had 20 turnovers against NLR – and 29 percent shooting from the field, and Benton has hit a bit of a rut.
“We’re shooting it poorly right now, but they had a lot to do with that,” Chumley said of the Devils’ defense. “They were scrappy defensively and we’re not healthy. I’m not going to make a bunch of excuses, but we got kids sick and hurt.”
Senior post player Madison Brooks missed the North Little Rock game with a stomach virus and came off the bench against West Memphis to score a team-high seven points and five rebounds.
The first bucket of the game resulted in West Memphis’ Raquel Logan getting an offensive rebound and put back and that would set the tone of the game early. The Lady Panthers responded with two straight buckets with senior Korie Parker making a driving layup and sophomore Braylee Landreth getting fouled on a made layup. Up 4-3, the Lady Panthers allowed Logan to score the next five points, the last two coming from another offensive rebound and put back.
Down 11-6 toward the end of the first quarter, Benton sophomore Braxton Chumley hit a 3-pointer with three seconds left in the first and assisted by junior Allison Reynolds to get within 11-9. Landreth found Chumley for a layup to begin the second quarter with an 11-11 tie, but two free throws and an offensive rebound and put back by Jasmine Patterson gave West Memphis a four-point lead and would lead by six, 21-15 at the half.
The Lady Panthers (5-2) came out cold to open the half and could muster only three points in the third quarter as West Memphis took a 29-18 lead into the fourth. Brooks would get an offensive rebound and put back to get the lady Panthers within nine, but West Memphis responded with a 10-4 run, including another offensive rebound and put back by Logan, over the next 4:48 to lead 39-24 with 1:45 left to play.
For the Blue Devils, Logan had 11 points, 10 rebounds and four blocked shots, and Alexis Hamlet had 10 points and seven rebounds. For Benton, Chumley and Reynolds each had five points, with Reynolds adding four rebounds, and Parker had two points, two rebounds and four steals. Landreth had two points and four rebounds.
“We’re not where we’re going to be and that’s good, but we obviously have a lot of work to do,” Coach Chumley said. “We’re just going to stay after it. It’s a long season. We’re going to learn from the North Little Rock game and West Memphis and hopefully make us better for the next one.”
That next one will come on Saturday in the seventh-place game of the Invitational against Alma at 11:30 a.m.