Archdeacon: ‘Free-throw mastermind’ leads Dayton women past St. Joe’s

With 38.5 seconds left in overtime Sunday, the University of Dayton pep band turned into chorus as it faced the Saint Joseph’s bench and began to sing a “so long” taunt:

“Na Na Na Na, Hey Hey Hey, Goodbye!”

It may have seemed a little premature considering the UD women had just a five-point lead, 64-59, and Saint Joe’s was bombing in deep three pointers almost at will.

They had had two in the final 22 seconds of regulation to force overtime and would end up making three more in the extra stanza.

But the band felt safe because the UD Arena public address announcer had just brought music to all Flyers fans’ ears when he said:

“Lauren Cannatelli to the line for two free throws.”

Or, as Flyers’ guard Shakeela Fowler put it:

“Oh my God, she’s a free throw mastermind! We knew we could just turn our backs and walk the other way and get ready to play defense.”

Cannatelli made those two free throws.

Then two more 10 seconds later.

And another two 14 seconds after that.

She ended the day going 22 for 22 from the line, shattering the UD women’s all-time record of 12 for 12, which she had set Dec. 20 against Virginia Tech.

She also topped the all-time free throw mark for UD men’s basketball, which Edwin Young holds for an 18 for 18 effort against Northeast Louisiana in 1997.

Her 22 free throws also are the most in a game this season across all of NCAA Division I.

The 5-foot-8 senior guard ended the game with 26 points and that lifted the Flyers to the 72-65 overtime victory over the Hawks.

UD coach Shauna Green said never in her career has she seen a free throw display like that in a game: “She was amazing.”

As their late-game urgings prove, the Saint Joseph’s coaches felt the same way.

“I heard them yelling at their players, ‘Don’t foul her!’” Cannatelli said with a smile. “But my teammates were looking for me and I made it a point to go get the ball. And if they weren’t going foul me, we were going to run the clock out.”

Faced with a no-win situation, the Hawks had to foul her and hope somehow she suddenly would get untracked.

She said none of the Hawks resorted to those tactics rivals used against Danny Noonan as he lined up his match-deciding putt in the movie Caddyshack. Nobody was coughing, whispering needling: “Miss it! ….Miss It!”

That only happens at UD practices, she laughed.

“At practice, when we’re scrimmaging, Erin Whalen, she’s one of our redshirts, she’ll always try to get in our heads at the foul line. She’ll say funny stuff and try to get us to laugh.

“Stuff like ‘Your shoe strings are untied…You ain’t got no shins!” Just goofy stuff. Just to get in your head and get you off rhythm.

“I might chuckle a little, but it doesn’t work.”

That said, making free throws with the game on the line and a crowd watching is no easy task.

Fowler found that out at the end of regulation when she was fouled by Saint Joseph’s Lula Roig with 2/10ths of a second left and the score tied 51-51.

She missed both attempts, sending the game into overtime and sending her toward the team bench momentarily crushed.

“I was definitely a little frustrated,” she said later. “The game was on the line and all of a sudden I couldn’t buy a free throw if they were 50 cents.

“My teammates got me through it. A big phrase of ours this year is ‘Next play’ and that’s what they reminded me. They said, ‘Don’t dwell on it. Don’t let it affect the next thing you do.’”

Green said she told the Fowler: “Forget about it. It’s over. Make the next play.”

And that’s just what the 5-foot-2 junior did. She scored seven of the Flyers’ 21 points in ovetirme, including going 5 for 6 from the line. She ended the game with 12 points, as did forward Brittany Ward.

The story of the day though was Cannatelli, especially with UD playing without leading scorer Jayla Scaife, who sat out after suffering a recent concussion.

Cannatelli is the team’s second leading scorer – averaging 12.3 points per game – and the Hawks did everything they could to take away her outside shot. She ended the day an uncharacteristic 2 for 11 from the floor.

In the process though she drew on a lesson her dad, Scott Cannatelli – her enthusiastic AAU coach and backyard motivator – hammered into her over the years:

“Make your own luck”

She did that Sunday by driving to the hoop and getting fouled.

And when it comes to free throws, she works hard to make her own luck come game day.

Growing up, she said her dad wouldn’t let her leave the family hoop in the driveway until she made 10 straight free throws. She does the same thing at UD practices and often has coaches or team managers stay afterward to rebound so she can put up extra free throws.

On off days she said she comes to the gym and shoots until she makes 100 free throws.

She does the same with her three-point shooting.

She holds UD program records for most three pointers attempted in a career and most treys made in a game when she hit 10 against Rhode Island last January.

Before last season – when she spent the summer at UD taking classes – she said she came to the gym and made 10,000 shots.

Sunday, her family was at the game and so was Andy Fishman, her high school coach at Lakota West.

As she left the court she said he sent her a text message:

“He said. ‘All those hours in the gym continue to pay off….Way to step up!’”

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