Women’s Basketball: Flyers top Virginia to move to 4-0

Prior to each game, University of Dayton women’s basketball coach Shauna Green draws a heart on the white board in the locker room.

“Rebounding is just heart,” Dayton junior Lauren Cannatelli said. “It is huge for us. It gives us second opportunities and it is a killer for the other team.”

That heart was on full display Sunday at UD Arena as the Flyers outrebounded a taller University of Virginia team 53-35 in a 61-46 win in front of 1,866 fans to move to 4-0.

“I’m proud of what we preach every day and that is defense and rebounding,” Green said. “If we do that, the offense will take care of itself.”

Even if it takes awhile for the offense to get going.

A 3-pointer by Maddy Dennis tied the game at 9-9 in a first quarter where the two teams combined to hit just 8 of 30 shots (26 percent).

“Defensively, we were locking them down,” Cannatelli said. “Nine points… we just weren’t executing. But when we needed to hit the shots the most, we made them.”

Virginia took a 12-11 lead with 9:24 remaining in the half, but it would be the last lead for the Cavaliers.

Jayla Scaife scored seven straight points to turn a tight game into a 20-14 advantage with 6:49 remaining in the half.

“I was just determined,” Scaife said. “J (JaVonna Layfield) was in foul trouble and she is our energy and I knew someone had to step up.”

An old-fashioned three by Jenna Burdette pushed the lead to 27-16 and Virginia never got closer than five the rest of the game.

Virginia cut the lead to five to open the second half, but back-to-back threes by Cannatelli and Dennis pushed the lead back to 11.

The Flyers got 20 points from the bench behind Cannatelli’s 14 and six from Dennis.

“Our bench is so important,” Green said. “Maddy hitting those shots that she did was just huge.”

The Cavaliers got as close as five in the fourth quarter, but a three from Cannatelli with 2:06 remaining followed a basket by Scaife and was the final dagger, drawing a rare fist pump as the lead went back to 11, 46-35.

“I guess it was just all the emotions of the game,” Cannatelli said. “I tried not to get down on myself.

“But when we hit those shots back-to-back, it was the dagger. Not just getting the lead back to double digits, but getting the momentum and it was a huge boost of energy.”

The Flyers went 9-for-10 from the line down the stretch to ice the win and finished the game shooting 37 percent (21 of 57) while holding Virginian to 26 percent (18 of 67).

Scaife led the Flyers with 17 points while Cannatelli added 14. Scaife (10), Alex Harris (12) and Layfield (12) all finished with double digit rebounds.

“We were getting good looks early, but they weren’t falling,” Green said. “Those are things you can’t control and we tell them is to control the controllable and you can control your defense and that is what I am most proud of.”

The Flyers travel to Toledo on Wednesday before hosting Arkansas-Pine Bluff next Saturday afternoon.

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