The Dayton Flyers enter the final three weeks of the regular season atop the Atlantic 10 Conference women’s basketball standings, but they’re a long way from clinching anything.
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Dayton (16-7, 9-0) leads Virginia Commonwealth (13-9, 8-1) by one game and Fordham (14-8, 6-3) by two games with seven games to play. It faces both those teams in the coming weeks. VCU visits UD Arena on Feb. 16. Dayton plays at Fordham on Feb. 22.
For now, though, Dayton is focused on its next game: at 2 p.m. Sunday against Rhode Island (11-10, 4-5). That has been Dayton’s attitude all season, and it paid off after it started the season 5-7.
“It’s everything we preach in this culture,” Dayton coach Shauna Green said. “It’s one game at a time. We’ve got to do the work. Whether you win or lose, you take that and you get better. What are we going to do to be 1 percent better the next day. We really try to be process driven. You can’t just say that. You’ve got to live that daily.”
The Flyers have won 11 games in a row. Here are 10 reasons for the winning streak:
1. Strong defense: In A-10 play, Dayton is giving up a league-best 48.8 points per game, while holding opponents to 32.6 percent shooting, the lowest average in the conference.
2. Limiting mistakes: Dayton ranks second in the conference through nine A-10 games in turnover margin (plus 3.4).
3. Outside shooting: The Flyers rank third in 3-point field-goal percentage (35.5 in A-10 play).
4. Clutch free throws: Erin Whalen made one free throw with 1.6 seconds left to give Dayton a 48-47 victory against Saint Louis on Jan. 19. Whalen, Jordan Wilmoth and Kyla Whitehead combined to make 6 of 6 free throws in the final 40 seconds Jan. 26 in a 48-44 victory against Fordham.
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5. Consistent threat: Whalen has scored in double figures in 10 of the 11 games.
6. Offensive firepower: Jayla Scaife has scored 20 or more points in three of the last four games.
7. Strong tandem: Whalen is tied for ninth in the A-1o in scoring (13.1 points per game). Scaife ranks 11th (12.9).
8. Fan support: Dayton has averaged 1,781 fans through nine home games. It leads the A-1o in average attendance.
9. Early schedule: During its non-conference schedule, Dayton played three teams now ranked in the top 11 — No. 1 South Carolina, No. 4 Connecticut and No. 11 Gonzaga — plus Central Michigan, which ranks 18th in the RPI.
“We knew our non-conference schedule was preparing us for the A-10,” Green said. “We’re going to schedule hard. We’re going to play the best so we’re prepared to compete and win games when it comes to A-10 play.”
10. High expectations: Dayton won the regular-season championship in 2017 and 2018 before slipping to a tie for fourth last season. Getting back to the top is the goal.
“Our expectations here is to win,” Green said. “Our expectation is to compete for championships.”