Cook scores career-high 29 to lift Dayton past Wright State

Dayton's Makira Cook drives baseline against Wright State during the first half of Friday's game at UD Arena. Jeff Gilbert/CONTRIBUTED

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Dayton's Makira Cook drives baseline against Wright State during the first half of Friday's game at UD Arena. Jeff Gilbert/CONTRIBUTED

The 17-point lead was done to one, and it was time for Dayton women’s basketball coach Shauna Green to call a timeout and ask an important question with 6:07 to play.

“Who wants the ball?” she said.

Makira Cook, a sophomore guard on a veteran team, said, “I do.”

“What do you want to run?” Green said.

Cook called for a high ball screen and scored to start a 14-5 run that closed out a 75-65 victory over Wright State on Friday afternoon at UD Arena in the teams’ first meeting since 2014.

“That’s what I want out of players,” Green said. “I want players to be like give me the ball in this situation and I’m going to get us back going. That’s the leadership.”

Cook wanted the ball a lot and scored a career-high 29 points, including 16 in the second half.

“She took over for us at key points, hit a big three, was aggressive driving and converted at the free-throw line,” said sixth-year senior Jenna Giacone. “She was our offensive go-to player. She wanted the ball.”

The Flyers (9-3) needed the scoring boost because starters Erin Whalen and Kyla Whitehead and three others were out because of COVID-19 protocols. Giacone added 10 points and sophomore Capria Brown added 12 in by far her most action of the season. Tenin Magassa started in place of Whitehead and finished with nine points and 11 rebounds.

“It was just a different type of groove and a lot of people got experience that they haven’t been able to get this year, so that was good for them,” Cook said. “It’s really important that our bench is getting experience.”

Getting experience was the reason this game was added to the schedule this week. Dayton hadn’t played since December 21 and had a game canceled this week. Wright State’s only previous December game was played December 15. The Raiders went into quarantine on Dec. 21, had two games canceled and returned to practice Tuesday.

“You could tell there was a lot of energy in the building,” Wright State coach Kari Hoffman said. “It was a really fun environment to play in, and I’m glad that Dayton provided us this opportunity. Hopefully we can keep this going in the future and continue this little Dayton rivalry.”

The Raiders (1-8) fell behind by 17 in the first half, trailed by 10 at halftime and by eight after three quarters. The Raiders cut Dayton’s lead to 61-60 when Jada Roberson made a free throw and rebounded the second one for a layup with 6:08 left. That’s when the Flyers went on their game-clinching run.

“They have had so much adversity face them this past month and I’m just really proud of how they responded after just a couple days of practice,” Hoffman said. “And they played some of the best basketball I’ve seen them play all year.”

Roberson led the Raiders with 20 points, Destyne Jackson had 16 and Channing Chappell 13. The Raiders were missing starter Jada Wright and had only seven players available.

“I’ve watched all the games I could watch on Wright State, and they have battled to the end in every game, even games in which they were close to getting blown out,” Green said. “So I knew they weren’t going to quit.”

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