By Rob Patrick
MAUMELLE — For the longest time, the Bryant Lady Hornets seemed to be just a good[more] run away from catching or passing the Central Arkansas Christian Lady Mustangs when the two teams met on Saturday in the final girls game of the OrthoArkansas/Baptist Health Invitational Tournament.
But the run never developed as the Lady Hornets struggled to score. CAC, the only team to go through the tournament unbeaten, broke through late when Bryant had to take risks defensively in hopes of cutting into the lead. The result was a 39-22 victory for the Lady Mustangs in a game that was closer than that most of the way.
Bryant shot just 22 percent from the field (10 of 45).
“I thought we got good shots,” said Bryant head coach Brad Matthews. “I thought we got the kids that we wanted to shoot, shots where we wanted them to shoot it. It was just one of those nights. We’ll just keep working, keep our heads up.”
It was the third game in as many days for the Lady Hornets. Asked if that might’ve gotten into his players’ legs, contributing to the shooting woes, Matthews said, “That’s the first time this year, we’ve played back to back to back but it’s their third game in a row too. I thought we were getting good shots.”
Still, the two teams combined to go 1 for 22 from 3-point range.
And the Lady Hornets weren’t just settling for jumpers. Even though they tried to attack the basket, they got to the line for just five free throws in the game.
Dezerea Duckworth scored 8 points, Logan Davis 7, Courtney Davidson 5 and Haley Murphy 2 for Bryant. For the second game in a row, Davidson reached double figures in rebounding with 10.
CAC was led by post player Sydnie Jones, who finished with 17 points and 13 rebounds. Falan Miller added 10 points and 10 boards. Miller did most of her damage (8 points) in the first half while Jones got 10 of her points in the second half, 8 in the fourth quarter when Bryant started to scramble to get back into the game.
“Our kids played hard,” Matthews asserted. “Jones and Miller are really good players. I thought Logan did a really good job on Miller. She got us out in transition a few times but she hit just one (jump) shot off a ball screen.
“I think our defense was good,” he continued. “I thought we executed defensively better. We got beat in transition a few times. Other than that I thought defensively we did enough to win. We’ve just got to execute offensively and make the plays when they’re there to be made.”
Davidson’s stickback with 4:10 left in the first quarter was Bryant’s first field goal in the game and had the Lady Hornets within 4-3 as the Lady Mustangs were struggling to score as well. Miller hit a layup but Duckworth would score off a steal then can a driving jumper with 2:32 left in the period to give her team a 7-6 lead that held until the end of the quarter.
But in a game marked by long droughts for the Lady Hornets, they went until the 4:24 mark of the second period before they scored again off a drive by Duckworth. By then, CAC had built a 13-7 lead.
Bryant had several opportunities to get closer or keep up but was unable to score again the rest of the half. The Lady Hornets’ defense, however, kept the Lady Mustangs from running up a big lead. It was still just 17-9 at the intermission.
The teams traded points for much of the third quarter, which ended with CAC leading 25-15.
The lead remained in double digits the rest of the way but it was just 31-19 with 3:31 left. Hoping to get a game-turning run going, the Lady Hornets started to press at that point but the run never developed. Jones scored on a pair of stickbacks but Davis drilled a 3 to keep it to 35-22 with 2:25 left. Duckworth and Davidson combined on a steal only to have the Lady Hornets turn the ball over.
The score was still the same going into the final minute. A pair of late baskets by Jessica Saunders padded the margin.
Jayla Anderson, who scrapped on defense for the Lady Hornets, was named the team's player of the game. Miller was chosen for CAC.
The Lady Hornets, now 3-3, return to action on Monday in the Wampus Cat Invitational Tournament in Conway. At 4:30 p.m., they’ll get a rematch with the Camden Fairview team that knocked them off to open the CAC tourney last Thursday.
“We’ve got a tough haul between now and Christmas,” Matthews noted. “We’ve got to make sure the mistakes we had tonight don’t happen next week or the week after that.”
LADY MUSTANGS 39, LADY HORNETS 22
Score by quarters
BRYANT 7 2 6 7 — 22
CAC 6 11 8 14 — 39
LADY HORNETS (3-3) 22
Player fg-fga ft-fta reb fls pts
Duckworth 4-17 0-0 1-2 3 1 8
Davis 3-15 0-0 2-1 3 0 7
Weaver 0-3 0-0 0-3 3 0 0
Davidson 2-8 1-2 5-5 10 4 5
Meyer 0-1 0-0 1-0 1 4 0
Murphy 1-1 0-0 2-0 2 0 2
Smith 0-0 0-0 0-1 1 1 0
Scarlett 0-0 0-0 0-1 1 2 0
Anderson 0-0 0-3 3-1 4 0 0
Team 0-1 1
Totals 10-45 1-5 14-15 29 12 22
LADY MUSTANGS (4-1) 39
Score by quarters
Player fg-fga ft-fta reb fls pts
Miller 5-14 0-2 1-9 10 2 10
Saunders 3-13 2-2 3-4 7 2 8
Butler 1-5 0-0 1-2 3 1 2
Jones 7-9 3-6 7-6 13 3 17
Krueger 1-3 0-0 0-2 2 2 2
Watson 0-2 0-0 2-1 3 1 0
Team 2-0 2
Totals 17-46 5-10 16-24 40 11 39
Three-point field goals: Bryant 1-12 (Davis 1-6, Davidson 0-4, Duckworth 0-1, Weaver 0-1), Central Arkansas Christian 0-10 (Saunders 0-5, Miller 0-3, Butler 0-2). Turnovers: Bryant 19, Central Arkansas Christian 19.