Quinnipiac comeback spoils Dayton coach Green’s debut

It looked like the Shauna Green era for the University of Dayton women’s basketball program was going to be off to a great start on Sunday afternoon in a nonconference game against Quinnipiac. Instead, celebration turned to anger by the time the Flyers left UD Arena.

Quinnipiac made a huge comeback in the second half with a 20-2 run and held on to hand the Flyers a 63-60 loss. Though the come-from-behind win sent the Bobcats back to Connecticut in high spirits, it spoiled Dayton’s season opener and Green’s first game as head coach.

“I told them we all have to learn from this and be mad,” Green said. “Believe me, we’re all super mad, but we’re going to learn from it.”

Kelley Austria and Jenna Burdette made 3-pointers in the first 90 seconds of the third quarter to give Dayton a 36-26 lead. The Flyers pushed their lead to 17 after a jumper by Burdette with 4:30 left in the third, but the Bobcats quickly stormed back.

Quinnipiac finished the third on a 14-4 run and scored the first four points of the fourth. Aryn McClure hit a layup with 6:56 left in the fourth to give the Bobcats their first lead since the second quarter. After Dayton tied the game at 50, Quinnipiac scored three-straight baskets to take a 57-50 lead with five minutes left.

“I think we came out really well in the beginning of the second half, and then we got that big lead and stopped playing with urgency,” Austria said.

Dayton fought back with an 8-0 run, which was capped off with two free throws from Lauren Cannatelli with 1:41 left. The Bobcats quickly drove down the floor and worked the ball to Adily Martucci, who hit a jumper with 1:21 left to give her team a 59-58 lead. Quinnipiac scored four points on a basket and two free throws over the next minute to secure the victory.

“It was too big of a dip for us,” Green said. “We talk about this being a game of runs, but they went on that big run and we just couldn’t fight back.”

The Flyers’ offense struggled against Quinnipiac’s physical 2-3 zone. They committed 20 turnovers and shot 39 percent (20-of-51) from the field. Dayton also missed 11 free throws in the game, including four in the fourth quarter.

Fouls also contributed to the loss for Dayton. Burdette, who scored 10 points, fouled out in the fourth quarter, and JaVonna Layfield (7 points, 10 rebounds) had four fouls and missed playing time as a result.

Cannatelli led the Flyers with 14 points, while Austria had 10 points and four assists. Morgan Manz led the Bobcats (2-0) with 19 points.

Dayton has a tough slate of road nonconference games coming up, starting on Wednesday at Wisconsin.

“I think this was a good learning experience for us,” Austria said. “We just need to execute better offensively and work on our defense positioning. If we execute the game plan and work hard in practice, we’ll be okay.”

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