By: Steven Miller – Asst. Sports Editor
Dayton advanced to the Elite Eight of the NCAA women’s basketball tournament with a 82-66 win over the University of Louisville Cardinals Saturday afternoon.
This was the first Sweet Sixteen appearance for the Flyers.
After a tough first half, UD locked down its defense in the second half and pulled in front of the Cardinals.
In front of a national audience on ESPN, the Flyers started the first half hot, jumping out to a 7-2 lead. Louisville ended up taking an 18-11 lead midway through the first half, capitalizing on Dayton’s multiple turnovers. The Flyers were sloppy with the ball in the first, turning over 14 possessions in the first 20 minutes, while Louisville turned it over just six times.
Dayton was able to keep pace, though, with lockdown defense in the first half. The Flyers held Louisville to a 31 percent shooting rate and zero percent from 3-point range.
Unlike the last round’s matchup against the University of Kentucky, in which the Flyers converted more than 60 percent of their 3-point shots, Dayton missed each of their first six attempts from beyond the arc before senior guard Andrea Hoover sunk a triple with just under six minutes to go in the half. Dayton led at the half 30-29.
Junior center Jodie Cornelie-Sigmundova and Hoover both had eight points at the break. The Flyers jumped out to a seven point lead, 40-33, in the first four minutes of the second half, backed by six points by Hoover in the first three minutes. Junior guard Amber Deane hit a 3-pointer with 14:34 to go to give Dayton a 10-point lead, 45-35.
Louisville was able to make it a two-point game with just under nine minutes remaining, but the Flyers turned up the pressure on both ends of the floor. Utilizing a 13-0 run, Dayton took a 68-53 lead by the five minute mark.
UD hit each of their first 18 free throws in the game, and did not miss one until there were under two minutes remaining in the contest.
Staving off the Cardinals’ attempted comeback, Dayton kept the lead at nine points or more as Louisville became the second Kentucky school in as many weeks that the Flyers upset.
Hoover led all scorers with 26 points, hitting 15 of 15 free throws in the process. Her stellar performance more than made up for last week’s showing, in which she recorded as many points as fouls: five.
Hoover now has 1,835 career points, passing Justine Raterman to become fourth on the all-time scoring list at the University of Dayton.
The Flyers move onto the regional final against the University of Connecticut. UCONN is the No. 1 overall seed in the tournament and demolished the University of Texas 105-54 in the regional semifinal.
The Elite Eight face off between UD and UCONN will be Monday at 7 p.m. and broadcast on ESPN.