By: Steve Miller – Staff Writer
The Dayton women’s basketball team took the floor at UD Arena for the first time this season in an exhibition game against NCAA Division II opponent Gannon Friday evening.
Seniors Kelley Austria and Amber Deane led the Flyers on a high-paced offensive attack as Dayton defeated Gannon, 109-67.
Head coach Jim Jabir was pleased with how his run-and-gun offensive style played out.
“We’re gonna shoot the ball and score it—we’re gonna run. And I thought we did that fairly well,” he said of his team’s 109-point performance.
That aggressive offense was apparent in the play of the first-year Flyers who got playing time Friday.
First-years Maddy Dennis, Lauren Cannatelli and Ashleigh Parkinson each hit a three-pointer in the first half to christen their Flyer careers. Cannatelli drained another three in the second half and scored eight points total.
“Jabir is always trying to keep me confident,” Cannatelli said after the game. “It was a nice feeling to see that first one go in,” she said of knocking down her first three-point attempt.
“A lot of times, freshmen are told to ‘shoot more, shoot more,’ but they went out there and took every open shot,” Deane said after the game. “They didn’t hesitate at all. And that’s what we’ve been preaching to them at practice. They’re all great players.”
“I think offensively they’re pretty good,” Jabir said of his first-years. “I think defensively there’s a lot to learn. Right now they lack the experience and presence of mind to get to the right spots…That’s something that we’ll work on.”
Despite the offense, Jabir said he was perturbed by his team giving up 67 points.
“We imposed our will offensively, but defensively I think we gave up too many looks, too many open three’s, gave up loose balls,” Jabir said. “We’re not imposing our will on the defensive end.”
Gannon shot 40 percent from the floor during the game and hit 11 three’s—one more than UD.
“What you emphasize is what you get good at,” Jabir said of his team’s aggressive style. “Now we have to draw back a little bit and also emphasize getting stops.”
Senior forward Jodie Cornelie-Sigmundova set Dayton’s tone on defense, tallying five blocks and eight rebounds. Junior center Saicha Grant-Allen recorded 12 points and 13 rebounds for the only double-double of the game.
“I was really excited to come back to [Dayton] and be able to contribute and work towards the common goal,” Grant-Allen said after the game.
She spoke of her hard work over the summer in preparation for her new leadership role with the Flyers.
“With those guys a year older, I think they know it’s our time and we have to do this,” Jabir said of Grant-Allen and Cornelie-Sigmundova. “There’s no one else to rely on.”
As expected, Deane and Austria led the Flyers’ attack. Austria shot 9-for-10 from the floor for 21 points. Deane tallied 24 points, going 8-for-16.
“We’ve been wrestling with Kelley, trying to get her to shoot more, and she answered today,” Jabir said. “I think I need both of [them] to impose their will on the defensive end a little bit more. They need to be [better] leaders on the defensive end.”
“We don’t want to give up as many points as we did,” Deane said after the game. “We’re definitely going to address that at the film session [and] the next practice.”
The Flyers are coming off their first ever Elite Eight appearance last season, and growing pains with their new class of players is almost always part of the starting process. Luckily, the exhibition game uncovered the prominent areas for improvement.
“This was really good for us,” Jabir concluded.
The Flyers are next in action to open the regular season at UD Arena Friday, Nov. 13 against Yale at 11 a.m.
For the full photo gallery from the game, click here.