The University of Dayton women’s basketball team withstood a physical opponent in Duquesne University on Monday, Feb. 18, at UD Arena to remain undefeated in the Atlantic 10 Conference with a 58-57 victory.
Led by sophomore guard Andrea Hoover, who scored a game-high 20 points, and freshman guard Kelley Austria, who had a career-high 17, UD overcame a nine-point deficit with 12 minutes to go in the game to preserve the one-point win.
“I don’t know where we are without [Hoover],” head coach Jim Jabir said. “I don’t know where we are without her toughness and her grit and when we made that run it was on her back. She’s a critical piece of what we do.”
Coming into the game, the Flyers attained its highest rankings in program history, coming in at No. 14 in both the AP and Coaches’ polls.
UD (22-1, 10-0) controlled much of the first half, leading until close to the two-minute mark, when Duquesne surged ahead to a three-point lead going into halftime, capped by a coast-to-coast layup at the buzzer by Duquesne senior guard Jocelyn Floyd.
The start of the second half started out much like the first ended, with eight turnovers in the first five minutes combined, including five straight to start the half for the Flyers. UD finished with 28 for the game.
Duquesne (19-6, 8-3) would eventually take its largest lead of the game at 50-41 with just over 12 minutes left.
After calling a timeout though, the Flyers, aided by the roar of the 1,509 in attendance, went on a 13-0 run to take a 54-50 lead over the next four minutes.
According to Jabir, the crowd, whom he thanked after the game on the public address system, played a huge part in the Flyers’ win.
“I thought the crowd was wonderful, they really willed us on at the end,” Jabir said. “I think their intensity, how loud they got was great. I think it really spurred us on, and I think it made it really difficult for Duquesne to get anything done. So I thought they were wonderful and it keeps getting better.”
From the eight-minute mark on, Dayton and Duquesne finished in a defensive battle, with both teams only combining to score 10 total points, and neither team scored in the final two and a half minutes. On the final possession for Duquesne, following two missed put backs attempts by Floyd, Austria stole the ball away from her with just over a second remaining to secure the victory.
Jabir said coming out of the timeout with 32 seconds left for the last possession, he made a key defensive change.
“Originally, went to set up our man defense since I thought they were taking it out on the baseline,” he said. “Then I realized they were taking it out on sidelines, so we went to zone, and they had a really hard time with the zone.”
In addition to her career-high in points, Austria also led the team in steals with five, which included the game-winner. In total, the Flyers created 21 turnovers.
“I think I came out more aggressive, trying to get to the basket more,” Austria said. “I think that was a big part of why I was successful.”
Hoover also praised her backcourt mate on her defensive prowess.
“Her defense was unbelievable, and it’s what won us the game today,” she said.
As for the Dukes, it lived up to its billing as a scrappy team, creating 28 turnovers, including five from Floyd, the A-10’s steals leader.
As a team, both shot 38 percent from the field, but UD shot 33 percent from three, as opposed to Duquesne’s 20 percent. UD also held an advantage at the free throw line, going 18-for-22 to Duquesne’s 4-of-8, and UD won the rebounding battle, 39-35.
UD returns to action against St. Bonaventure University at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 21,
in Olean, N.Y.