Dayton women extend winning streak to 11 games

Flyer overcome slow start to beat VCU

DAYTON — The University of Dayton women’s basketball team beat one of its biggest rivals to keep its winning streak alive.

The Flyers used a second-quarter surge to overcome an early 11-point deficit en route to a 67-62 victory over Virginia Commonwealth University on Sunday afternoon at University of Dayton Arena.

Dayton senior Erin Whalen scored a game-high 21 points and senior Jenna Giacone added 14 as the Flyers won their 11th straight game. Dayton improved to 12-1 and 11-0 in the A-10.

“It was just a hard-fought, great team win,” said Flyers coach Shauna Green. “I thought VCU played great. It was the game we expected. They were picked (to finish) one and we were picked two. … I’m proud of our guys, proud of how we made plays down the stretch.”

Taya Robinson scored 18 points as the Rams fell to 9-9 and 7-4 in the A-10.

VCU jumped out to a 20-11 first quarter lead on a 3-pointer by Janika Griffith-Wallace. The Rams shot 50 percent (8-for-16) in the first quarter.

“I challenged our guys and our seniors after the first quarter,” Green said. “The second quarter was huge. We went zone. We’ve been practicing it and we had it in our back pocket. I thought that was a game changer right there. It stifled them a little bit, got them out of rhythm and we started getting some baskets from getting stops on the defensive end.”

The Flyers finally got hot in the second quarter, going on a 16-2 run at one point. Whalen scored five straight points to cut the lead to 28-27 and Dayton claimed the lead at 29-28 on a jumper by Mariah Perez. A jumper by Makira Cook gave the Flyers a 35-33 halftime lead.

Credit: Michael Cooper

Credit: Michael Cooper

Whalen’s jumper with four minutes remaining in the third quarter gave Dayton its largest lead at 49-41. She hit five 3-pointers in the game.

“If she’s open, we want her to shoot it,” Green said. “She was huge in the second half. It felt like every time they made a bucket, she’d hit a 3. When they went zone, she hit a 3. We need her to put those shots up. Make or miss, we want her shooting it every time she’s open a little bit.”

The Flyers extended their lead to 62-50 early in the fourth quarter on a 3-pointer by Whalen and back-to-back buckets by Jenna Giacone.

VCU went on a 10-0 run to cut the lead to 62-60 on a 3-pointer by Robinsin with 2:30 remaining. The Rams held UD scoreless for more than seven minutes in the fourth quarter.

Giacone’s layup with 33.8 seconds remaining to give the Flyers a 64-60 lead.

Robinson’s layup pulled VCU to within two points at 64-62 with 28.2 seconds remaining.

Giacone made one of two free throws with 23.8 seconds to go to extend the lead to three points.

Robinson’s 3-point attempt with 20 seconds left missed and Giacone hit two more free throws to seal the win for the Flyers.

The Flyers have three regular season games remaining, although Green said the A-10 could add a mid-week game to the schedule. Dayton will host Saint Louis (8-3, 6-3) in its home finale at 2 p.m. Feb 20 at UD Arena. They’ll travel to Fordham (11-3, 8-2) on Feb. 26 and Davidson (6-10, 3-7) on Feb. 28 to end the regular season.

Dayton is on track for the No. 1 seed for the A-10 Tournament, which is being held March 3 through 7 at VCU’s Seigel Center in Richmond, Va. With 13 games under its belt, Dayton is also eligible for an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament.

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