Richardson’s 24 ignites Fillies in conference opener

On the back of senior Ajia Richardson’s game-high 24 points, Pine Bluff defeated Texarkana 55-50 in its 7A/6A-South conference opener Friday night at McFadden Gymnasium.

Pine Bluff led 48-41 going into the fourth quarter and despite going just 3 of 10 from the free throw line in the final three minutes of the game, the Fillies were able to hold off the Lady Razorbacks.

“We couldn’t put them away,” Pine Bluff head coach Loy Moore said. “We missed way too many free throws down the stretch.

“We did a better job of taking care of the ball and we got to the free throw line, but we couldn’t make the free throws.

“I feel blessed that we won that game.”

Pine Bluff (11-3, 1-0 7A/6A-South) took a 53-44 lead with about 3:02 lead but Texarkana (8-6, 0-1) cut it down to eight points thanks a free throw made by Starry Manley.

After Richardson made one of two from the free throw line with 1:07 left, Texarkana got within seven points as Shaquinta Cooper made both of her free throws with less than a minute left.

Texarkana trimmed the deficit to 54-48 with a little more than 30 seconds left. Pine Bluff’s Kye Richardson made one of two from the line to put the Fillies back up by seven.

“You’ll take it,” Moore said. “But you know that is going to beat (in the long run).

“Defensively, we are still allowing too much dribble penetration.

“Things we really work hard in practice, and that’s just not getting better.”

Kye Richardson, a junior, finished with 13 points and junior Jasmyn Eckerman chipped in with seven.

“We aren’t containing the basketball,” Moore said. “…We’re leaving shooters open. It’s a vicious cycle, but we got to get better.”

Pine Bluff scored just four points from the floor in the third quarter. Moore believes some improvements were made from last week’s game against Greenwood, but added it is always hard to tell.

“Every game is different and we just got to take it one at a time,” Moore said. “We try to learn from our mistakes from over the past couple of weeks and get better.”

Trailing 42-32 in the third quarter, Texarkana went on a 9-2 run to get within 44-41.

Morgan Norwood, who led Texarkana with 15 points, started the run with a bucket and Alexis Moss followed with a steal and a bucket to cut it to 42-36.

Norwood then made two free throws with 39 seconds left in the quarter to trim the lead to 44-38. A free throw by Jasmine Allen and a bucket by Manley pulled the Hogs within three.

Ajia Richardson quickly followed with a layup to push Pine Bluff’s lead back to five before the end of the third quarter.

The Fillies will travel to Bryant on Tuesday.