HOT SPRINGS – After the inclement weather that shut down central Arkansas the day after Christmas, the Spa City Shootout commenced a day later than the original Thursday start. With almost 10 inches of snow blanketing the state in some areas, the snow must have covered the basketball rims at Summit Arena in Hot Springs on Friday as the Hot Springs Lady Trojans bested the Bryant Lady Hornets 46-34, where both teams shot a combined 30 percent from the field.
“They’re pretty good,” Bryant Coach Brad Matthews said of Hot Springs. “I saw them play early and I thought they were pretty good then. I don’t know if they played well today or if that was average, but they shot it well. Maybe because that was because we didn’t shoot it very well.”
The latter was the case as the Lady Trojans turned their missed shots into multiple offensive rebounds, which led to second- and third-chance shooting opportunities for Hot Springs.”
Hot Springs outrebounded Bryant (6-7) by only five (34-29), but that was thanks in large part to Lady Hornet junior forward Courtney Davidson’s monster rebounding night. Davidson pulled down 17 rebounds to go along with a team-high 13 points.
“She rebounded really well,” Matthews said. “She played really well, really aggressive and assertive. Hopefully, as we move forward in conference, we really need her to do that pretty much every night. Courtney has gotten so much better and continues to improve. I think she’s in for a lot of good stuff in the second part of the season.”
Hot Springs jumped on Bryant 8-2 halfway into the first quarter before Davidson got an offensive rebound and put back followed by junior Erica Smith’s layup assisted by junior Destin Nichols to make it an 8-6 Lady Hornet deficit with just over a minute remaining.
Down 11-6 early in the second quarter, Bryant had its best offensive output of the game going on an 8-0 started by two Davidson free throws and ended by a 3-foot jumper by Smith assisted by senior Logan Davis to take a 14-11 lead with 4:22 left in the half. Lady Trojan Tiaunna Watkins put in a 3-pointer to tie it and on Hot Springs’ next offensive possession, Davidson pulled down her 10th rebound of the game, but went down awkwardly and was injured when a Hot Springs defender stole the ball and made a layup.
“She got caught,” Matthews said of Davidson. “I think she kind of got rolled up on. Luckily, I think she is going to be OK. I thought she played pretty well in the second half.”
Davidson would return and scored five points and pulled down seven more rebounds in the second half.
Hot Springs would open the third quarter on a 4-0 run and would take a 25-16 lead after a Jasmine Lenox 3-pointer with 4:07 left, but Davis would hit a 3-foot jumper followed by a 3-pointer assisted by junior Dezarea Duckworth to pull the Lady Hornets within 25-21 with 2:43 left in the quarter.
That would be the closest Bryant would get as the Lady Trojans were given too many second-chance opportunities, despite their 28-percent shooting for the game. Hot Springs did hit 7 of 16 from the arc.
“Our kids played hard, but didn’t have a very good offensive day,” Matthews said of Bryant’s 33-percent shooting. “We couldn’t keep them off the boards. I thought their offensive rebounding really hurt us throughout the game. We gave up some transition baskets. We never were able to get any positive momentum going. We couldn’t couple together a few good offensive possessions making shots.”
After Davidson, Davis had nine points and two steals for Bryant, Duckworth had six points and two assists, and Smith had four points and three rebounds.
“I thought our initial defense was fairly good,” Matthews said. “We couldn’t keep them off the boards, especially in the zone [defense]. We had to go man and ended up giving up some open looks on the perimeter. Hot Springs is a good team. Hopefully we can take it and learn from it.”
Ashley Clayborn had 13 points (5 of 18 from the field) and 10 rebounds to lead Hot Springs, Watkins had eight points and eight rebounds, and Berniezha Tidwell had seven points, six rebounds, four assists and three steals.
After their first-round loss in the Spa City Shootout, the Lady Hornets responded with a 38-35 second-round win over Mount Saint Mary’s on Saturday.
The Lady Hornets trailed 13-11 after one quarter, led 21-17 at the break and held on for the three-point win.
“It was close throughout,” Matthews said. “Literally a possession game. We did a better job rebounding and our defense is getting better.”
Duckworth had 14 points to lead Bryant with Davidson (12) and Davis (10) following.
The Lady Hornets will conclude the Spa City Shootout on Monday between the winner of Clarksville and Hot Springs Lakeside. Tipoff is 1 p.m.