By Rob Patrick
CONWAY — The Alma Airedalettes had no answer for Bryant’s Courtney Davidson Thursday[more] night. Posting up, driving from the wing or the high post, Davidson either scored or was fouled time and again on her way to 24 points and 10 rebounds on the night, leading the Lady Hornets to a 49-39 win in the consolation round of the Wampus Cat Invitational Tournament.
An undersized team full of perimeter players, the Airedalettes — yes, that’s really what they’re called — launched a whopping 32 3-pointers in the game and wound up shooting just seven free throws. Davidson, by herself, went 14 of 20 from the free-throw line, the bulk of Bryant’s 18 of 26 night at the stripe.
Alma wound up making eight of those 32 3’s, seven of them in the first half, producing a 23-18 lead but with Davidson scoring 17 of her points in the second half, the Lady Hornets surged to victory.
Bryant, now 4-4 on the season, will take on West Memphis at 1 p.m., this Saturday in the consolation final at the tourney, being played at Buzz Bolding Arena.
Actually, Alma’s active perimeter players made it tough on the Lady Hornets’ top two scorers on the season, guards Logan Davis and Dezerea Duckworth. They still scrapped for 5 and 4 points, respectively. But sophomore Jayla Anderson came off the bench to score 7 and center Whitney Meyer contributed 4 points in the first half, capitalizing on her height advantage. She also gathered six rebounds.
And during the third-quarter surge, Peyton Weaver came through for the Lady Hornets, scoring 5 points including the team’s lone 3.
The rally was also sparked by the Lady Hornets’ defense, which worked hard to get out on the Airedalettes’ long-range shooters. And when they started trying to go back-door against the aggressive defenders, the Lady Hornets did a good job of helping each other to cut off those passing lanes.
“It’s a good win,” stated Lady Hornets head coach Brad Matthews. “I thought we executed offensively tonight as well as we have all year. We were setting screens, coming off screens, got the ball inside a lot and I thought that was important.
“Alma’s not very big and I thought (Courtney) was a little bit bigger, a little more athletic when they were in their man (defense),” he added. “I thought we were able to do some stuff to get her the ball in space.
“I thought our guards, Dezerea, Logan and Peyton and Jayla did a good job getting her the ball and I thought she was aggressive. Anytime a kid has that many points, it’s a tribute to our team. It was a good game by her and we’re going to need that going forward. Courtney hasn’t been asked to score that much. You can see her getting a little bit more comfortable. And that’s the same with all our kids.”
Despite missing their first seven 3-point tryied and going almost six minutes without a point, Alma continued to bomb away to start the game. Hailey Ostrander finally broke through to cut into Bryant’s 7-0 lead with 2:22 left in the opening period. She hit another then so did Robin Stewart and Bryant’s lead at the first break was just 11-9.
Stewart hit two more around a free throw by Anderson to start the second quarter and Alma took a 15-12 lead.
Bryant rallied off a steal by Davidson, Meyer followed her own miss for a bucket. Later, Davidson scored on an inbounds play, with a nice feed from Davis. And when Duckworth swished a driving jumper from the lane, the Lady Hornets were back up 18-15.
Alma, however, scored the last 8 points of the half with Madison Newton and Lania Wright hitting 3’s. The Airedalettes had eight field goals in the first half, seven of them 3’s.
“They just hit 3 after 3 after 3,” Matthews noted. “I thought we were halfway there. We knew coming up here, they were going to shoot a lot of 3’s. Luckily, we played a little bit better defense in the second half. We were a little bit closer to them on the catch, not letting them have quite as much time to get their feet set and make shots.”
Limited to 16 points in the second half, the Airedalettes only converted one 3 and that was early. Davidson had scored the first basket of the third quarter to cut the lead to 3 but then Allie Roe, the fifth Alma player to connect on a triple and the ninth to try one, gave her team its largest lead of the game, 26-20.
But Weaver answered taking a kick-out pass from Davidson in the lane. Her trey started an 11-0 run that extended to a 20-4 stretch that Alma never recovered from.
Davidson tied it and put the Lady Hornets ahead with free throws. It was 29-26 before Weaver fed Anderson for a layup.
Roe hit a long jumper to interrupt the run and, after Davidson scored inside, Hannah Murphy shot Alma’s first free throws of the game at the 2:03 mark of the third quarter. She trimmed Bryant’s advantage to 33-31 but the Airedalettes would get no closer. Davidson fed Weaver for a bucket then Anderson made a steal and layup. After a miss by Stewart, Davis hit a jumper off a drive and, with :06.8 left in the period, Davidson made another free throw after she’d been fouled driving to the hoop.
A last-second layup by Stewart made it 40-32 going into the fourth quarter and that basket ignited a run by the Airedalettes. Back-to-back baskets by Cierra Rainwater and Newton had whittled the lead to 40-37 and a Bryant turnover gave them a chance to get closer.
But an Alma turnover was cashed in by Davidson, which started a 9-2 closing surge by the Lady Hornets. After Davidson’s basket, it was all free throws. Davidson converted four and Davis three before a pair of last-minute free throws by Newton set the final score.
The win came on the heels of a disappointing loss to Camden Fairview — for the second time this season — in the opener of the tournament on Monday. Matthews was pleased with how his team responded to the adversity.
“I told them the other night after we got beat, we had to learn from that,” he stated. “I told them tonight after the win, we need to enjoy the win but we need to make sure we learn from it too because, moving forward, we’ve got a tough game Saturday against West Memphis and, more in our conference, which is what we’re trying to prepare for.”
LADY HORNETS 49, AIREDALETTES 39
Score by quarters
BRYANT 11 7 22 9 — 49
Alma 9 14 9 7 — 39
LADY HORNETS 49
Player fg-fga ft-fta reb fls pts
Duckworth 2-9 0-0 2-4 6 1 4
Davis 1-11 3-4 1-3 4 1 5
Weaver 2-3 0-0 0-2 2 0 5
Davidson 5-13 14-20 3-7 10 2 24
Meyer 2-3 0-0 2-4 6 1 4
Scarlett 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0
Hay.Murphy 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0
Anderson 3-5 1-2 1-1 2 2 7
Nichols 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 1 0
Team 2-3 5
Totals 15-44 18-26 11-24 35 8 49
Player fg-fga ft-fta reb fls pts
Stewart 4-11 0-0 0-1 1 2 11
Han.Murphy 0-2 2-2 0-3 4 4 2
Short 0-2 0-0 4-1 5 4 0
Terhune 0-4 0-0 2-1 3 2 0
Ostrander 2-6 0-0 0-2 2 1 6
Roe 3-7 0-0 0-2 2 2 7
Newton 2-6 2-3 3-3 6 1 7
Rainwater 1-5 1-2 1-4 5 0 3
Johnson 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0
Wright 1-1 0-0 0-1 1 0 3
Team 0-2 2
Totals 13-44 5-7 10-20 30 16 39
Three-point field goals: Bryant 1-7 (Weaver 1-1, Davis 0-3, Davidson 0-2, Duckworth 0-1), Alma 8-32 (Stewart 3-9, Ostrander 2-6, Newton 1-5, Roe 1-3, Wright 1-1, Rainwater 0-3, Terhune 0-3, Han.Murphy 0-1, Short 0-1). Turnovers: Bryant 8, Alma 17. Technical foul: Alma bench.