A single play right before half Wednesday night at UD Arena showed the University of Dayton women’s basketball team had accepted the challenge to play with more fire.
With the Flyers leading 39-19, freshman Lauren Cannatelli stole the ball near mid-court and somehow managed to flip it ahead to Amber Deane as she was being pulled down.
“When you are hungry, you will get on the floor,” Dayton coach Jim Jabir said after his squad improved to 2-0 with an 81-56 win over Vanderbilt in front of 1,637. “It creates opportunity. People appreciate that when you are willing to get dirty. The hardest-working team is on the floor all the time.”
It was exactly what the Flyers needed after allowing Yale to shoot 53 percent in the first half before escaping with a 81-75 win Friday.
“It was very intense,” Deane said of the practices following the opener. “I think we watched film more than we practiced the day after. But we all started holding each other accountable. Coach has wanted people to step up and be the leader and I think we all stepped up and became leaders. It got more intense because of us and Coach.”
Vandy had a couple of brief moments in the first quarter, leading 2-0 and 6-5, but for the rest of the night, it was all Flyers.
Dayton held the Commodores (1-1) to 7 of 33 shooting in the first half (21 percent), including 2-for-14 from 3-point range, while hitting 45 percent from the floor (13 of 29) and 41 percent from three (7 of 17).
“I think our defensive focus and intensity was great,” Jabir said. “It was some of the best defense we have played here in a long time. I am proud of this group’s effort. They consistently revisited things. They played tough.”
The Flyers also won the rebound battle 45-33 with 12 players grabbing at least two, led by Saicha Grant-Allen’s 10.
“Last year, they killed us on the boards,” Jabir said of the Flyers’ 71-67 win in Nashville. “Rebounding is an intensity thing. It is a heart thing and it showed that we have a lot who are really hungry.”
A short jumper by Deane gave the Flyers their first double-digit lead, 21-10, with 8:52 in the half. The lead grew to as many as 20 — once on a 3 by Deane and the last time (39-19) on a pair of free throws by Jodie Cornelie-Sigmundova.
“I think we had some doubts that we had to work through (after the Yale game),” Grant-Allen said. “We really put an emphasis on coming out and turning in a good performance and we went out and executed what we planned.”
Deane led the Flyers with 27 points while Kelley Austria added 12 and Grant-Allen 11. Jasmine Jenkins led Vandy with 16 points. Chaminade Julienne grad Rayte’a Long went scoreless with one rebound in eight minutes for the Commodores.
The Flyers host Wisconsin (1-1) at 2 p.m. Sunday.