Pine Bluff’s Jasmyn Eckermann scoops up the ball for two poins against Benton on Friday. (Special to The Commercial/William Harvey)
The Benton Lady Panthers knocked off the Pine Bluff Fillies 39-30 Friday night at McFadden Gymnasium to remain undefeated in the 7A/6A-South Conference and hand the Fillies their first loss in the conference.
“It is hard to run when you can’t rebound,” Pine Bluff coach Loy Moore said. “They controlled the boards and it was tough to get into a press because we weren’t scoring.
“We obviously did it when we could, but it wasn’t very often.”
Both teams struggled offensively, as the two combined for just six points in the first quarter. Benton (16-4, 7-0 in 7A/6A-South) would lead Pine Bluff (16-4, 5-1) 16-8 by the end of the first half.
“We knew coming over here, it was going to be hard,” Benton head coach Jerry Chumley said. “They are well coached, they play really hard and they are quick and athletic.”
Benton got on the board first when sophomore Ashlie Dintleman scored with 5:30 left in the first quarter.
“We needed to get off to a good start and we didn’t,” Chumley said. “We hit the game’s first bucket and then it just went stale.”
Pine Bluff answered with a basket when sophomore Jasmyn Eckermann scored easily in transition with less than 3 minutes left.
Senior Ajia Richardson gave Pine Bluff a 4-2 lead with a fadeaway shot in the corner right before the first quarter ended.
Pine Bluff took a 6-2 lead in the second quarter, but Benton answered with a 10-0 run including a pair of baskets from sophomore Braylee Landreth.
“We aren’t a very physical basketball team,” Moore said. “And tonight we struggled with that.
“Tonight, (the referees) just kind of let you play, which they don’t very often, but at least it was consistent on both sides.”
Landreth led Benton with 10 points. Richardson led Pine Bluff with nine points.
“Pine Bluff was playing hard,” Chumley said. “Neither team could really get anything going.
“When we settled down and got good possession, we were able to get a good shot and make the most of it.”
Pine Bluff was able to cut the deficit to single digits in the third quarter by making 4 of 6 free throws in a span of 2 minutes to trim Benton’s lead to 22-16. During that time, Benton went about 3 minutes before they were able to run their offense.
“It was an ugly win but you will take it on the road,” Chumley said. “It is very difficult to come over here and play.”
Benton will host Bryant on Tuesday and Pine Bluff will host Texarkana.
Texarkana has won just one game in conference but is currently 11-10 overall.