Career game for Giacone, first quarter push lead Flyers women’s basketball to 69-60 win over Toledo

Jenna Giacone (No. 12 white, pictured Nov. 12 against Duke) scored a career-high 28 points in Wednesday’s 69-60 win over Toledo. Photo courtesy of Keegan Gupta, Flyer News.

Peter Burtnett | Sports Editor

Dayton Flyers women’s basketball jumped out to a quick 10-0 lead and never looked back in a 69-60 home win, bolstered by a career-high 28 points from graduate guard Jenna Giacone, over Toledo on Wednesday.

Led by graduate guard Jenna Giacone and senior forward Kyla Whitehead, the Flyers jumped out to a quick 10-0 lead within the first 2:30 of the game. Giacone knocked down a three, then assisted a Whitehead layup and got a hook shot to fall. 

After a strong defensive possession of deflecting passes and forcing a shot clock violation, Whitehead converted a three-point opportunity after being fouled on a layup for a 10-point lead.

“The challenge that I keep pushing them is to get back to that that pride and the tenacity defensively, that really we’ve been able to hang your hat on for five years,” Flyers head coach Shauna Green said. “Credit our team because they did it and you see when we’re locked in and when we’re working and we’re all five players on the court moving together defensively. That’s the That’s what can happen and we can shut people down like that… offensively you’re going to be in a better flow and and just really taken what they how they played us and their ball screen coverage. And Jenna did a great job of finding Kyla, and Kyla did a great job of finishing.”

Toledo finally scored on a jumper with 7:30 left in the first quarter, but even when the Dayton offense slowed down, the defense continued to hold the visitors scoreless for 2:28 going into the media timeout. At the timeout, the Flyers led 14-4 with 4:30 left in the opening quarter.

The Flyers closed out the first quarter with more strong defense, holding the Rockets to 28 percent shooting in the opening quarter. Giacone knocked down another three after an offensive rebound by graduate guard Araion Bradhsaw kept the possession alive, but a late layup by Rockets junior guard Quinesha Lockett trimmed the Flyers’ lead to 20-8 at the end of the quarter.

In the second quarter, the Flyers continued to get production from Giacone on a three and jumper, but graduate guard/forward Erin Whalen got in on the action with a jumper and then a layup after a block by freshman forward Brynn Shoup-Hill. After getting her first block as a Flyer, Shoup-Hill then got her first points on a layup. A jumper by Whalen gave the Flyers a 33-15 lead and forced a Rockets timeout with 5:40 left in the second quarter.

“I wanted to cheer but I was like, we got to get back (on defense),” Whitehead said. “Many more to come for (Shoup-Hill). She’s a great player. She just has to get that confidence piece, but it will come through repetition in playing I believe that.

For one stretch in the second quarter, Toledo junior center Hannah Noveroske scored six straight points to lead an 8-0 run by the visitors to trim the Flyers’ lead to 33-23 with 2:38 left in the first half when Dayton called timeout.

After the break, Giacone found sophomore center Tenin Magassa for a layup, and the Flyers got another basket from Whitehead to stretch the lead to 37-24 at halftime. Even with nine first-half turnovers, the Flyers led by 13 at the break and had held Toledo scoreless for the last 2:38 of action.

Giacone led all scorers with 13 points, while Whalen and Whitehead added 8 and 7, respectively. In other key areas, the Flyers shot 48 percent (Toledo 38) from the field and 43 percent (Toledo 10) from three, while out-rebounding the Rockets 21-14 (6-3 on offensive boards). 

The third quarter started slowly for both offenses, as the Flyers made just one field goal out of ten and the Rockets went 3:23 without a make heading into the media timeout with 4:55 left in the quarter. Dayton held a 41-30 lead, but after the break, Whitehead made a pair of free throws to extend the lead to 13. 

Whitehead finished with 9 points and 7 rebounds. Although Giacone said what she does on the court doesn’t always show up in the stats, Whitehead said seeing her performance on the stat sheet makes her “feel better.”

“Last couple of game I haven’t really felt like myself, and I felt like I needed this game to kind of get back to where I want to be. And I think this is a great starting point especially now going on the road. We don’t have any easy games and we don’t have any easy wins to get, so I think this is a great confidence booster.”

After the break, the teams exchanged point-for-point, as the Flyers held onto a 49-35 lead at the end of the third quarter. In the quarter, the teams combined for just six made field goals and seven turnovers. 

To start the fourth quarter, the Rockets steadily cut into the Flyers’ lead, and a pair of baskets from sophomore guard/forward Nan Garcia made the score 51-45. Up by just six, the Flyers called a timeout with 5:09 left in the game.

Over the next 90 seconds, Giacone went on a stellar 7-0 individual run that pushed the Flyers lead up to 58-45. The native of Delmar, N.Y., scored on a pair of layups, the second of which was coast-to-coast, and then on a three off a screen to increase her point total to 25 on 10-17 shooting (4-7 on threes) and force Toledo to call a timeout with 3:35 left in the game.

“That was the Jenna Giacone show,” Green said. “Just having a veteran team and being in these positions before (helps avoid losing a lead. And like I spoke about earlier just having a kid like Jenna and our our upperclassmen, all of our seniors, they know what they want to do. They know why they came back, those sixth-year seniors, they’re on a mission and you saw that today and it was pretty fun to watch when Jenna was on the mission.”

“(That run) was huge,” Giacone added. “We wanted to put them away, make the fourth quarter ours. And I just knew that if I had the driving lane, I was gonna take it and I’ll finish strong.”

The Flyers were able to hold on for a 69-60 win, though Lockett made a late push with three made threes to increase her point total to 22. But it wasn’t enough, as a career-high 28 points from Giacone led the Flyers to their second win of the season.

“It feels great,” Giacone said. “Coming off Duke (70-56 loss) at the end of last week, and then to be able to get this win was huge for our team going into a huge stretch of road games. So just happy that we were able to show up and walk away with the W.”

Next up, the 2-1 Flyers travel to West Lafayette, Ind., to take on Purdue at 6 p.m. on Saturday.

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