After winning the Atlantic 10 regular season title, the University of Dayton women’s basketball team hit an unexpected snag in its path to Brooklyn.
Dayton, for only the second time all season, fell to St. Joseph’s University 61-54 in the A-10 tournament semifinals at Hagen Arena in Philadelphia.
Dayton, the defending tournament champions, defeated SJU just a week prior to its semifinal meeting to secure an undefeated A-10 regular season.
SJU never relinquished the lead in the game. After trailing by as many as 15 in the first half, UD was able to cut the lead down to one with 2:45 remaining on a jump shot by sophomore guard Andrea Hoover. SJU senior forward Chatil Van Grinsven was able to get the basket back on the following possession though, and SJU would hit 7-of-8 free throws it attempted in the final minute to secure the upset.
Hoover and freshman guard Kelley Austria led UD with 11 points each.
Van Grinsven led SJU with a double-double, scoring a game-high 19 points to go with 10 rebounds. SJU in the game outrebounded UD 42-32, and assisted on 20 of the 25 field goals it made.
The Flyers, who entered the week ranked No. 11 in the Associated Press Top 25 poll, were the No.1 seed in the tournament.
UD started the A-10 tournament off on the right foot after a 74-49 victory over George Washington University on Saturday, March 12.
UD was led once again by the two-headed attack of Hoover and Austria, who had 15 and 13 points, respectively. Senior guard Sam MacKay also added 12 points and 5 assists.
Head coach Jim Jabir praised the effort of MacKay after the game.
“She shot really well today, she had some really timely buckets,” Jabir said. “I think she’s the motor that drives us. She’s smart as heck. She knows the nuances of the game.”
Jabir was even more outspoken when it came to Hoover.
“She’s one of the best kids I’ve ever coached,” Jabir said. “There’s no drama, no nonsense. You tell her what you want to do and she just goes and does it. I wish we had ten of her. She just has an old-school, get-it-done mentality.”
On the defensive side of the ball, UD held GW to just 32.2 percent shooting from the field, as well as added a season-high 11 blocks, a total which is second all-time in A-10 championship history. Freshman center Jodie Cornelie-Sigmundova led UD with five blocks, while junior center Cassie Sant added three.
The balanced effort of the team both on offense and defense was what Hoover was most pleased with.
“Our bench plays a huge role, that’s what makes our team so great that any game any day, any player can do big things for us,” she said.
According to Jabir, the uncertainty though when it comes to a star in any given game is something that worries him.
“We’re kind of mercurial, and that what’s makes me nervous when games start,” Jabir said. “I’m not quite sure who’s going to show up defensively, and how intense were going to be. One of the things we need to learn to do is take people’s best punch. Being the favorite is not something we’re used to. We get ahead and teams come back swinging, and that’s not something we’re used to, so we need to step up and give it back.”
Dayton looks to be safely in this season’s NCAA Tournament field as an at-large bid, and should learn of its seeding during the NCAA Selection Show at 7 p.m. on Monday, March 18, which will be aired live on ESPN.