‘Nerve-wracking’ wait almost over Dayton women’s basketball team

JaVonna Layfield and Jenna Burdette pose for a photo after Dayton beat Saint Louis to clinch the A-10 regular-season championship on Feb. 22, 2017, at UD Arena. David Jablonski/Staff
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JaVonna Layfield and Jenna Burdette pose for a photo after Dayton beat Saint Louis to clinch the A-10 regular-season championship on Feb. 22, 2017, at UD Arena. David Jablonski/Staff

Flyers will watch NCAA selection show Monday night at UD Arena

By the time the NCAA selection show starts Monday night, eight days will have passed since the Dayton Flyers won the Atlantic 10 women’s basketball tournament. That’s an eternity for a team used to playing a game every three or four days.

“Honestly, it’s nerve-wracking but also a relief knowing your name is going to get called,” junior guard JaVonna Layfield said. “Everybody’s excited. We’re just waiting to see where we go.”

The Flyers (22-9) will play in the NCAA Tournament for the seventh time. They first qualified in 2010 and have missed one tournament since, failing to make it last season.

The players who were on the roster in 2015 when Dayton made its deepest tournament run, advancing to the Elite Eight with victories against Iowa State, Kentucky and Louisville, hope that experience pays off this season.

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Four players who saw action in that tournament remain: senior guard Kelley Austria, junior guard Jenna Burdette, senior center Saicha Grant-Allen and Layfield. Senior guard Christy Macioce and senior forward Andrijana Cvitkovic were also on the roster in 2014-15 but didn’t play in the NCAA Tournament.

“A few players have been to the tournament before,” Austria said. “Having that experience, we can help the younger players.”

Through Friday, Dayton was one of 16 teams to have clinched an automatic berth in the tournament. The Flyers beat Duquesne 70-56 in the A-10 final on March 5 in Richmond, Va. There were 16 more conference championships to be played this weekend.

The selection show starts at 7 p.m. Monday on ESPN. The Flyers will watch together with season-ticket holders in the Spectrum Flight Deck at UD Arena.

ESPN’s latest bracket projection had Dayton earning a No. 10 seed and playing No. 7 Arizona State in Starkville, Miss. The winner would play No. 2 Mississippi State or No. 15 Central Arkansas in the first round.

First-round games will be played Friday and Saturday. The 16 top seeds in the tournament host games in the first and second rounds.

Dayton enters the tournament on a four-game winning streak. The team made 21 of 44 3-pointers (47.7 percent) in the A-10 tournament. It committed a season-low five turnovers in the A-10 championship game. Its last four opponents haven’t shot better than 35 percent from the field.

“I think right now we’re at the top of our game,” Layfield said. “There are a couple of things that could be fixed, but we’re in a pretty good spot. That’s a good thing.”

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