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PAUL closes in Western Market
By Ella Mitchell, Staff Writer • April 22, 2024

Women’s basketball goes cold at Dayton, suffers first A-10 loss

This post was written by Hatchet staff writer Marty Fenn.

In a defensive battle of wills, the Dayton Flyers (9-7, 3-1 A-10) handed women’s basketball (10-6, 3-1 A-10) its first conference loss of the year on a chilly Sunday afternoon in Ohio where the weather was as symbolic of both teams’ cold shooting as anything else.

Graduate forward Lexi Martins recorded her third consecutive double-double for the Colonials, posting 11 points and 12 rebounds, while senior frontcourt-mate Caira Washington added 10 points, nine boards, and four blocks in the 50-48 defeat.

Guard Kelley Austria led the Flyers with 19 points, while forward Saicha Grant-Allen posted eight points and 12 rebounds in a solid overall performance. GW shot just 31 percent from the field – its second-worst clip this season – and Dayton couldn’t do much better at 33 percent, as both team struggled to find a consistent offensive presence.

“Dayton’s big and they did a nice job of pushing our posts off the block,” head coach Jennifer Rizzotti said. “I think sometimes we need to have a bit more patience and try to get spacing so we can also attack off the dribble.

“I think [Dayton and GW] are two of the better defensive teams in the league.”

The Flyers appeared to put the Colonials away early, storming out to a 16-2 lead in the first quarter behind strong play from guard Jenna Burdette – who led all players with 11 assists – and Grant-Allen, who worked the pick-and-roll to perfection. The Flyers scored in the paint at will, asserting their dominance in the area en route to a 26-16 advantage in the lane for the game.

However, GW would not go down quietly. Martins and junior winger Brianna Cummings were able to get to the free throw line and help GW build some momentum and get back into the game. After a 21-6 run spanning the two quarters, the Colonials had their first lead midway through the second period.

The two teams went into the break all squared up at 29, and the second half proved to be a tense back-and-forth affair, with neither team willing to give ground or take a definitive advantage in the contest. Every time GW would run a post action to get an easy bucket for Washington, Dayton would seem to answer with a bucket from Austria, or a trip to the line down the stretch.

With neither team able to seize control, the game was still up in the air with two minutes to play in the final period and the score tied at 46 apiece. Washington, on a GW miss, stole the ball away from multiple Flyers defenders and scored on a putback to give the Colonials a lead, only to have Austria answer with a huge triple and put Dayton back on top 49-48 with 1:50 to play.

“We had a few defensive lapses in that stretch in the fourth quarter,” said Rizzotti.  “There was a defensive switch where we gave up [Austria’s three], and it was just one of those things where obviously those kinds of plays become more costly in a close game.”

GW had multiple chances to tie the game or take the lead in the closing moments, but senior Hannah Schaible dribbled the ball off her own foot with under 20 seconds to play, and a post entry slipped through Washington’s hands in the final seconds.

“We need to execute plays better and get consistent defensive stops in order to close out games,” said Washington.

After a final desperation heave at the buzzer by senior guard Camila Tapias fell short, the Colonials found themselves on the losing end of a conference game for the first time this year.

GW will travel to Fairfax, Va. to take on the George Mason Patriots on Wednesday. Tip-off is slated for 11 a.m.

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