They say too many cooks spoil the broth, but the Dayton Flyers have just one – Makira Cook – and she kept Dayton from getting its goose cooked by Alabama A&M in Tuesday’s season opener at UD Arena.
With several of the Flyers’ older stars struggling in the first three quarters, Cook,a 5-foot-6 sophomore making just the second start of her career, scored a career-high 23 points and pulled down a career-high six rebounds to lead UD to 73-52 victory in a game that was far closer than the final score.
Alabama A&M led at the half (25-23) and trailed by just six points (42-48) at the end of three quarters.
Cook,who led Mount Notre Dame High in Cincinnati to two state titles, carried the Flyers when senior starters Erin Whalen and Kyla Whitehead were stymied in the first half.
Whalen picked up two fouls in the first 4:49 of the game and sat for the rest of the half. The team’s leading scorer last season was scoreless at the break and had just five points after three quarters. But she found her range in the final stanza and added 11 points.
Whitehead was also scoreless in the first half and finished the game with just two points.
The Flyers, who went 14-5 last season and are a unanimous choice to win the Atlantic 10 Conference again this year, had a definite size advantage on the Bulldogs and were 9.5 point favorites at the opening tip.
Cook was unruffled Tuesday and scored on drives and from long range. After scoring 11 points in the first half, she added another 10 points in the third quarter to help UD surge ahead
Jenna Giancone, a 6-foot1 redshirt senior for the Flyers, added a double-double with 16 points and 10 rebounds. Whalen finished with 16 points and point guard Araion Bradshaw added 12.
Alabama A&M, which went 10-7 last season, was led by Kierra Johnson-Graham with 14 points and Dariauna Lewis with 13 points and 12 rebounds.
The Bulldogs freshman guard, Quantaijah Huffman, is from Trotwood Madison High School, where she was a three year starter and 1,000 point career scorer. She played eight minutes but was held scoreless.