The Dayton Flyers led for three quarters but couldn’t maintain their advantage in the fourth, falling 61-52 to Virginia Commonwealth in the semifinals of the Atlantic 10 Conference tournament on Saturday at the A.J. Palumbo Center.
No. 4 seed Dayton (17-13) led 40-31 in the first minute of the fourth quarter. The top-seeded Rams gained control of the game with a 14-2 run in the next five minutes.
Dayton trailed 48-47 with 2:28 left after a 3-pointer by Maddy Dennis, but the Rams pushed the lead back to five points in the next minute and clinched the victory at the free-throw line.
Jayla Scaife led Dayton with 21 points. The Flyers shot 29.1 percent from the field.
The loss ends Dayton’s two-year run of NCAA tournament appearances. The Flyers had played in the tournament eight times in the previous nine seasons. They still have a chance to earn a NIT bid. Dayton was 14-14 in 2016 when it played in the NIT.
VCU (23-8) will play No. 2 seed Fordham or No. 3seed Duquesne in the championship game at noon Sunday.
Dayton led by as many as 10 points in the first half and owned a 27-20 halftime lead. Trailing 10-8, Dayton began a 14-2 run over the next six minutes.
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Scaife scored 11 points in the half. The Flyers shot 26.9 percent (7 of 26) from the field but made 11 of 12 free throws.
VCU shot 20.8 percent (5 of 24) and made 9 of 14 free throws.
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