By: Dan Durkin – Staff Writer
The Dayton Flyers women’s basketball team has gone through a series of ups and downs so far this season.
The Flyers racked up some impressive nonconference wins, but then followed those with a tough start to the Atlantic 10 Conference season, where they sit at 2-5. The Flyers were on a four-game losing streak until they won their contest against St. Joseph’s Sunday.
The Flyers have gone through a lot of adversity this season, dealing with mounting injuries to key players and tough, close losses. Dayton started the season 6-1, with wins over Wisconsin, Vanderbilt and Louisville.
In their win against Toledo on Dec. 2, the Flyers lost one of their best players in senior guard Kelley Austria. She tore her ACL and is done for the season. Since that game, the Flyers have gone 3-8. That can’t only be contributed to the loss of Austria, but also to injuries to other key players, such as senior guard Amber Deane, who hasn’t played since the Flyers’ loss to Gonzaga on Dec. 11.
The Flyers have had to do a lot of shuffling to their lineups since there has been a steady flow of injuries. Head coach Jim Jabir has had to rely on some young players and some veterans on the team, some of which have had to take on a new role.
The Flyers have used seven different starting lineups this season. Young players such as freshman guard Lauren Cannatelli and sophomore guard Jenna Burdette have upped their scoring since the loss of their two veteran guards. It hasn’t been just the young players that have stepped up, but also some of the juniors and seniors too, like senior center Jodie Cornelie-Sigmundova and junior center Saicha Grant-Allen. It will take a whole team effort to turn the season around and get back on track, to hopefully make a run towards the postseason.
In the Flyers’ two most recent games they split the results, one win and one loss. The loss went the same way many of the losses have gone this year, and that’s been with a Flyers leading most the game, but not being able to hang on at the end, losing a close one to St. Bonaventure at home 59-54. Jabir clearly wasn’t happy after his team’s fourth straight loss on the season.
“I’m crushed, utterly disappointed in our team,” Jabir said after the loss last Wednesday. “Our lack of competitiveness down the stretch when we needed it was nonexistent, and everything I asked them to do, they did the opposite. This is starting to become a habit for us and this is getting old.”
Jabir stressed the importance of competing for the game’s entire 40 minutes.
“We compete for 38 minutes and then we stop and we hope it’s enough to win,” Jabir said.
The Flyers must have received the message that their coach sent them, as they went on the road on Sunday and beat Saint Joseph’s, 71-61.
Cannatelli, who scored a career-high 24 points, led the Flyers in scoring. Grant-Allen and Cornelie-Sigmundova added 17 and 12 points, respectively.
The Flyers led the majority of the game and were able to hang on at the end and close out the victory. The win moves the Flyers to 9-9 on the season and 2-5 in league play. Dayton has nine more regular season games left until the Atlantic 10 Tournament, and the Flyers will look to use this most recent win as momentum to carry themselves the rest of the season and maybe go on a run and make some noise in postseason play.
Dayton’s next game is Wednesday, Jan. 27 at 7 p.m. on the road against La Salle, where the Flyers will look to win their second consecutive game away from UD Arena.
Photo: Freshman guard Lauren Cannatelli (#24) looks on as teammate sophomore forward JaVonna Layfield fights for a rebound Jan. 10 against George Washington. The Flyers lost 62-61. Chris Santucci/Multimedia Editor