Redshirt junior guard Erin Whalen (cover photo) has been Dayton’s leading scorer this season, averaging 13.2 points-per-game. Cover photo courtesy of Keegan Gupta.
Dayton women’s basketball weathered a second half comeback from VCU Sunday afternoon to win 73-67 on senior day.
“It’s always great to win, but especially on senior day,” redshirt junior Erin Whalen said. “We’re going to take the win, celebrate it tonight and then make sure we get focused and ready for the next one.”
The Flyers (19-7, 12-0 in the A10) started strong on both ends of the court, jumping out to a 21-8 lead in the first quarter. Dayton’s defense was the key, holding VCU (14-11, 9-3) scoreless for nearly three minutes at the beginning of the period.
Dayton ended the first quarter shooting 53.8% from the field while holding VCU to only 22.2%.
VCU started to look more lively in the second quarter, starting with a short 6-2 run. Dayton was able to maintain their lead going into the second half, largely thanks to Whalen.
Whalen has been Dayton’s top scorer this season, averaging 13.2 points per game. She showed why in the second quarter. Whalen was 3-4 from three, ending the half with 15 points. She ended the game with a game-high 23 points.
“My coaches have always been great helping with my confidence levels, and my teammates were able to find me when I was open,” Whalen said. “It was a good win for all of us.”
The first half ended with a 35-23 Flyer lead.
VCU once again refused to stay down to start the second half. The Rams used two seperate 7-0 runs to cut the lead to four late in the quarter, and UD had no field goals for nearly the last six minutes of the quarter.
Redshirt senior guard Shakeela Fowler made sure Dayton wouldn’t carry this gaudy streak into the final period, nailing the buzzer-beater 3-pointer to end the third quarter.
VCU continued to pile on the pressure in the fourth quarter. VCU rode a three-pronged attack of junior guard Tera Reed (19 points), senior center Danielle Hammond (17 points) and junior guard Taya Robinson (15 points) in the fourth quarter, and they were scoring at will against the Flyers.
“We were there, but they made tough physical moves and finished at the rim,” head coach Shauna Green said. “You have to give them credit.”
Dayton only made three field goals in the fourth quarter, but was able to barely hold onto a lead thanks to clinical free throw shooting.
The Flyers were 18-21 from the free throw line in the fourth quarter alone, while VCU didn’t have a single free throw attempt in the final period.
“Really since conference play started, we’ve made free throws when we had to late in games,” Green said. “Free throws are going to win or lose you games, and we saw that today.”
VCU cut the lead to two with 3:25 to play, but that was as close as they got with Dayton closing the game out 72-67.
“I think the team is really motivated, they know what’s at stake,” Green said. “I know they’ll always be locked in and ready to go.”
Dayton remains on top of the A10, tallying their 14th straight win. The Flyers’ next game will be Wednesday night at UD Arena at 7:00 p.m., when George Washington comes to town.