By Rob Patrick
EL DORADO — As the Bryant Lady Hornets’ two best ball-handlers and two of the[more] team’s top three scorers, Logan Davis and Dezerea Duckworth have a lot on their shoulders in every game, particularly against a quick, aggressive defensive team like the El Dorado Lady Wildcats.
On Friday night, however, there was even more on them because the team was without an ailing Courtney Davidson, the team’s top rebounder and the third of those three top scorers, Bryant’s “3-D” (Davis, Duckworth and Davidson) attack.
The Lady Hornets’ duo played all 32 minutes. Against the active El Dorado defense, head coach Brad Matthews could hardly afford to not have them both on the floor. Meanwhile, El Dorado went 11 deep, something that may have taken its toll late in a tight game at Wildcat Arena, that the Lady Cats eked out, 46-41.
It was a gutsy effort by Bryant in a hostile environment.
After leading most of the third quarter and briefly in the fourth, the Lady Hornets found themselves tied with the Lady Wildcats, 39-39, with 3:32 left in the game. From that point on, however, they were held to just one basket, off a low post move by Duckworth with :22.5 left to play. They had four shots that wouldn’t fall and a couple of frustrating turnovers.
It wasn’t that Davis and Duckworth didn’t have open looks nor that they’re not in great physical condition but the shots they were making earlier stopped falling, perhaps because their legs weren’t under them.
El Dorado missed enough free throws to keep Bryant’s hopes alive. In fact, Duckworth’s late basket got the Lady Hornets within 3 points. And when the Lady Wildcats’ Marchelle Lockhart missed two free throws with :20.4 left to play, Bryant had a chance to tie it with a 3. Duckworth got an open shot at it as time was running out but it refused to go in.
Yasmine Jones, who led El Dorado with 13 points, put the game away with two free throws with only :04.7 showing.
“I thought our kids fought hard,” Matthews said. “We had a chance in the last two minutes to win the game. We just couldn’t make a play when we needed it.
“You’ve got to give El Dorado credit,” he added. “They’re quick and athletic. They were able to push us out on the floor when we were trying to run offense. We were running offense from 20, 25 feet out. That’s hard to do against any team, much less a good team.”
Davis finished with 18 points, Duckworth 16. Peyton Weaver hit a 3 while Whitney Meyer and Erica Smith each contributed a basket with Meyer pulling down a game-high nine caroms.
Matthews refused to use the absence of Davidson as an excuse.
“Next man up,” he declared. “Courtney’s an important part of our team but it is a team. It’s next man up. I thought (Kristin) Scarlett came in and gave us some good minutes. I thought Whitney and Erica played well. We’ll see how long she’s out but we’ll hopefully adjust and make some plays.
“Logan and Dezerea really carried us offensively,” Matthews acknowledged. “I thought defensively for a great portion of the game, we played well and we rebounded well. The last three or four games, I think that’s improving.”
Duckworth’s three-point play had tied the game at 39. Lockhart hit a 12-footer, part of her 12-point night, to put El Dorado back ahead.
The Lady Hornets had three shots at answering but a pair of misses and a turnover undermined the opportunity.
Chardesia George helped by missing two free throws with 1:51 left to play. She wound hit the first of two at the 1:27 mark to make it 42-39. The Lady Hornets ran a play to get Davis a shot at the 3. Though she’d made four in the game, this time it rimmed out.
With :55.6 left, Taylor McCool added a free throw to make it a two-possession game and the Lady Wildcats forced a turnover.
Yet, Bryant was still in it despite another free throw, this time by George, which extended the lead to 44-39.
That’s when Duckworth ended the Bryant dry spell that had lasted over three minutes.
El Dorado opened the game with a 9-2 run. Jones hit a 3 for the first points of the game. She would hit two more before the night was through.
“We knew coming down that (Jones) was a good shooter and we had some breakdowns there but overall I thought our kids played well,” said Matthews.
That was actually Jones’ lone basket of the first half.
Davis drilled a 3 and added a pull-up jumper as the Lady Hornets fought back. When Duckworth drove for a bucket with 1:37 left in the quarter, the game was tied 9-9.
El Dorado’s Keishanna Jackson snapped the tie in the final minute of the period.
The Lady Wildcats managed as much as a 4-point lead in the second quarter. It was 17-13 going into the final minute of the half but Davis drove the baseline and scored and, after Meyer blocked a shot by Bethany Billings, Duckworth drove and kicked out to Davis for a triple that gave the Lady Hornets an 18-17 lead at the break.
With the game tied 18-18 early in the third quarter, Bryant gained the upper hand when Duckworth drove for a basket, Davis made a steal and flushed another trey.
Jones heated up at that point and she and Davis traded 3-point bombs.
The game was tied at 26 before Weaver kicked in a 3. The Lady Hornets held the final four minutes of the quarter. Smith’s basket off a nice feed from Davidson with 1:17 left, made it 34-30.
But, with :26 to go, Alexandria Stringfellow hit a 3 to make it a 1-point game going into the final eight minutes.
El Dorado gained the edge with a basket by McCool but Bryant was back on top after Duckworth laced her way to the bucket, making it 36-35 with 5:10 left.
McCool scored again but this time the Lady Hornets were unable to answer right away. Lockhart scored, taking advantage of an illegal screen by McCool, who cleared a path to the basket, running through a pair of Bryant defenders.
Trailing 39-36, the Lady Hornets tied it on a clutch three-point play by Duckworth. But the proverbial lid was on the basket after that.
Now 9-12 overall this season, the Lady Hornets fell to 3-4 in the South Conference. El Dorado improved to 11-9 and 4-2.
Next, Bryant travels to Benton to play the league-leading Lady Panthers on Tuesday, Jan. 29.
LADY WILDCATS 46, LADY HORNETS 41
Score by quarter
BRYANT 9 9 16 7 — 41
El Dorado 11 6 14 13 — 46
LADY HORNETS (9-12, 3-4) 41
Player fg-fga ft-fta reb fls pts
Duckworth 7-17 2-3 0-3 3 2 16
Davis 6-17 2-4 0-2 2 2 18
Weaver 1-1 0-0 0-1 1 1 3
Scarlett 0-0 0-0 0-1 1 1 0
Meyer 1-3 0-0 2-7 9 3 2
E.Smith 1-2 0-0 1-1 2 1 2
Anderson 0-1 0-0 1-3 4 1 0
Murphy 0-1 0-0 1-0 1 0 0
Baxter 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0
Team 1-4 5
LADY WILDCATS (11-9, 4-2) 46
Player fg-fga ft-fta reb fls pts
George 1-2 3-8 1-3 4 1 5
Gordon 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0
Billings 1-4 0-0 0-1 1 1 2
Jones 4-10 2-2 0-4 4 0 13
McCool 3-4 1-3 2-4 6 4 7
Lockhart 6-11 0-2 1-6 7 1 12
Jackson 1-3 2-2 0-1 1 1 4
J.Smith 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0
Finley 0-2 0-0 0-0 0 0 0
O'Guinn 0-1 0-0 0-0 0 0 0
Stringfellow 1-2 0-0 0-0 0 0 3
Team 3-3 6
Totals 17-39 8-17 7-22 29 8 46
Three-point field goals: Bryant 5-17 (Davis 4-12, Weaver 1-1, Duckworth 0-4), El Dorado 4-12 (Jones 3-7, Stringfellow 1-1, Finley 0-2, O'Guinn 0-1). Turnovers: Bryant 16, El Dorado 13.