Women’s Basketball: Dayton Flyers fall to Tennessee in NCAA Tournament

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

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Dayton drops first round game against Tennessee

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

For awhile, it looked like the University of Dayton women’s basketball team was going to follow the same script from the Atlantic 10 Tournament in the first round of the NCAA Tournament on Saturday afternoon at the KFC Yum! Center:

Get down big early, make a run to tie the game then slowly build a lead after getting the jets revved.

Well, two out of three.

The Flyers (22-10) got down by double digits to Tennessee early and came back to tie at the half, but couldn’t pull the final part of the equation together in a 66-57 loss.

“We’ve had some slow starts in the first quarter,” Flyers coach Shauna Green said. “I thought our start was going to be really, really key today in how we came out. We’ve been known to make runs and come back and that’s exactly what we did today. It was the same pattern.”

Diamond DeShields scored 24 points to lead the Vols. She’s the daughter of Delino DeShields, the former major leaguer and current manager of the Louisville Bats, the Reds’ Class AAA team.

Here are five things to know from the game:

Slow start: The Flyers fell behind 20-9 after the first quarter while struggling with their shooting, making 3 of 19 shots, many of which were open.

Dayton did bounce back to tie 29-29 at halftime on a pair of free throws from Lauren Cannatelli.

“I thought we came out a little timid,” Green said. “That’s all you talk about all week is attacking them and being confident. We shot the ball well at the shootaround.

“So we didn’t have a great start. Yeah, we were 1-for-16, but I’m not going to tell them to stop shooting.”

Dayton was 7 of 12 in the second quarter, which it closed on a 16-6 run.

The difference?

“I think we let the game come to us a little more after the first quarter,” point guard Jenna Burdette said. “We just needed to calm down.”

Turning point: With the Flyers trailing 41-39 with 5:21 remaining in the third quarter, backup Jordan Wilmoth got tangled up with Alex Middleton under the basket and went down holding her right knee.

The freshman had scored a career-high seven points in the first half to go with two rebounds.

Tennessee closed the quarter with a 10-3 run to open a 51-42 lead.

Post battle: Dayton was out-rebounded 43-39. Alex Harris had 14 rebounds for the Flyers, but Tennessee got 15 from Schaquilla Nunn and 10 from Mercedes Russell.

“It was a drastic change in terms of size, but our game plan didn’t change at all,” UD senior Saicha Grant-Allen said. “We tried to get inside and use our length too. We’re a tall team too, so the game plan didn’t change but it’s definitely a difference.”

Long-distance issues: The Flyers made 4 of 20 three-pointers after entering the contest shooting 35 percent from behind the arc.

“That is such a big part of what we do,” Green said. “We were getting the looks we wanted, we just couldn’t hit them.

“In past games, we’d hit some of those corner threes or one of those kickouts and that would give us a lot of momentum, and they just didn’t go (Saturday).”

Foul problems: Dayton made its biggest run of the day to tie the game in the second quarter with Burdette, Austria and Grant-Allen on the bench with two fouls.

Plagued by foul trouble, the Flyers watched Tennessee make 22 of 33 free throws. Dayton was 11 of 14 from the foul line.

“We made that run with freshmen on the floor,” Green said. “I don’t even know if there was a senior on the floor during that run.

“Sometimes with freshmen, they don’t know any better. They come in and shoot, but I think that they will take this experience and grow from it. That’s going to be something we can go towards next year and that they have a taste of it and know they can play with the best.”

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