By: Steve Miller – Sports Editor
The Dayton women’s basketball team returned to UD Arena after a lengthy five-game road swing for their first home matchup since the season opener on Nov. 13. Leading the whole game, the Flyers downed the Morgan State University Bears 61-42.
With Friday’s win, UD improves to 3-4 on the season. Previously, they had dropped three consecutive games to Connecticut, Georgia Tech and Creighton.
Redshirt senior Kelley Austria got things rolling for Dayton’s offense, scoring 12 points in the opening quarter as the Flyers built to a 28-20 halftime lead.
Morgan State, who was playing at UD Arena for the first time, struggled early on offense, mustering just eight points in the first quarter. The Bears were frazzled on their opening drive by The Flyer Pep Band’s premature shot clock countdown, a classic heckling move that many UD Arena visitors are prepared for and not as easily fazed.
The Bears hung around, cutting Dayton’s lead to as little as four points partway through the third quarter. But that was as close as the Flyers let it get.
After not scoring at all in the first half, junior point guard Jenna Burdette knocked down two key field goals near the end of the third quarter in which she scored five points in total.
UD pulled away in the fourth quarter and ultimately won by 19, giving up three final points on a buzzer-beating shot by the Bears.
While their offense wasn’t overwhelming, Dayton’s defense was dominant all night. The Flyers held Morgan State to a 25-percent shooting mark and outrebounded 43-35. In addition, the Flyers had nine blocks in the game.
“We always work on core values and discipline on defense, so non-negotiables like box outs,” said senior center Saicha Grant-Allen, who tallied six rebounds and two blocks in the game. “I think that’s always something that’s been engraved in our program.”
“We got the win, but it was definitely an ugly game,” Austria said. “Especially how they were slowing it down [for us] on offense. I think there’s still a lot we can learn from this game.”
While the sluggish start is not exactly where head coach Shauna Green and the team want to be at, it’s nothing new for the Flyers. Two years ago, the team started 2-3 en route to the Elite Eight.
“It really isn’t about how you start, it’s about how you finish,” Green said. “But the main thing for me, above all, from the record or whatever, is our process. And are we continuing to get better? Are we improving on the areas that we need to improve upon? And that’s a day-by-day thing, and that’s really all our focus has been.”
The Flyers stay home this weekend for their first Atlantic 10 matchup against LaSalle on Sunday at 2 p.m. Then they take on Toledo Friday at 11 a.m.