CONWAY – After a tough loss in the first round of the John Stanton Wampus Cat Invitational, the Bryant Lady Hornets responded with a 49-39 win over the Alma Airedalettes in a consolation game on Thursday at Buzz Bolding Arena. Bryant lost to Camden Fairview 53-42 in the first round where the Lady Hornets lacked execution, both offensively and in the rebounding department (Bryant was out rebounded 18-7 in the second half).
"Good win," Bryant Coach Brad Matthews said. "I thought we executed offensively as well as we've executed all year. We set good screens, we came off screens, we executed, got the ball inside a lot and I thought that was important."
The main recipient of those inside passes was senior forward Courtney Davidson, who got to the free-throw line 19 times, making 14, and had game-highs of 24 points, nine rebounds, and three assists, and added two steals.
"They're not very big," Matthews said of Alma, "and I thought [Davidson] was a litter bigger and a little more athletic in their man (defense). I thought we were able to do some stuff to get her the ball in space. I thought our guards, Dezarea (Duckworth) and Logan (Davis), Peyton (Weaver) and Jayla (Anderson) did a good job getting her the ball. I thought she was aggressive.
"Any time a kid has that many points, that's just a tribute to our team. It was a good game by her and we're going to need that moving forward."
The Lady Hornets (4-4) got off to a 7-0 run to begin the game, started by a Duckworth 18-foot jumper and ended by a Davidson offensive rebound and put back. But the Airedalettes would not go quietly. Sophomore Hailey Ostrander hit two threes during a 6-2 Alma run, and Bryant would go into the second leading 11-9.
The second quarter saw a lack of defensive intensity from Bryant as the Airedalettes hit four 3-pointers in the quarter to outscore the Lady Hornets 14-7 and Alma led 23-18 at the half. Alma hit 6 of 15 from the 3-point line in the first half, but Bryant made an effective adjustment in the second.
"Defensively, they just hit three after three," Matthews said. "We knew coming up here they shoot a lot of threes. Luckily, I thought we played a little bit better defense in the second half, a little closer to them on the catch. Not letting them have so much time to get their feet set and make shots."
The Lady Hornets played the Airedalette shooters much closer in forcing Alma to just 1 of 14 shooting from the 3-point arc in the second half.
Not only was Bryant aggressive on the defensive end, but that aggression carried over on the offensive side as the Lady Hornets went on an 11-0 run began by a Weaver 3-pointer and ended by a Weaver assist to Anderson for a layup to lead 31-26 with 2:50 left in the third quarter. Davidson hit 6 of 8 free throws to account for the other six points of the run as she took the ball hard inside.
Leading 33-30 with just over two minutes left in the quarter, the Lady Hornets went on an 8-0 run started by a Davidson assist to Weaver for a layup and ended by a Davidson free throw, which was her 11th point of the quarter. Bryant would hit 6 of 8 free throws in the fourth quarter and played solid defense to fend off Alma for the 10-point win.
For Bryant, Anderson scored seven points and had two steals off the bench, Davis and Weaver scored five points each, and Duckworth (three rebounds) and senior Whitney Meyer each scored four points, with Meyer adding six rebounds.
The Lady Hornets will play in the fifth–place consolation game against West Memphis at 1 p.m. Saturday at Buzz Bolding Arena in Conway.