Published: Friday, March 03, 2017 @ 1:06 PM
Updated: Friday, March 03, 2017 @ 1:09 PM
By: David Driver - Contributing Writer
RICHMOND — Last year Dayton guard Kelley Austria watched her team’s first game in the conference tournament on television, the victim of a season-ending knee injury that limited her to seven contests.
She was not in Richmond as the Flyers fell to No. 9 seed George Mason in the 2016 Atlantic 10 Conference tournament.
This March the redshirt senior was part of happier opener, as the Flyers scored the first 12 points of the game and beat No. 8 seed VCU 77-61 in the quarterfinals of the conference tourney.
“The game got a little ugly but a win is a win,” Austria said after game as she iced both knees.
The top-seeded Flyers advance to the semifinals at 11 a.m. on Saturday against Saint Louis, which beat Fordham 68-58 on Friday.
Dayton (20-9) was paced by Jenna Burdette, who had 23 points and four assists and made eight of 10 shots from the field. She did not play Feb. 4 in a 20-point win against VCU because of a leg injury.
Lauren Cannatelli came off the bench to score 11 points for the Flyers, including three of five from 3-point range. Reserve post player Andrijana Cvitkovic had 11 points, starter Alex Harris had eight points and eight rebounds and Austria had seven points and three assists.
“I tried to do my job,” Cvitkovic said. “VCU was making runs. We were keeping them under control.”
It was the first game for UD since Feb. 22, the day the Flyers beat Saint Louis in overtime to win a share of the A-10 title. The Rams advanced by beating rival Richmond last Sunday as the tourney began at home sites.
“We knew coming in this would be a tough game,” Dayton coach Shauna Green said. “We made plays when we had to. This time of the year it is about finding a way: who is going to execute when you have to. Especially coming off eight days off, you never know how you are going to play. I am proud of the effort.”
The Flyers made 8 of 14 shots from 3-point range. VCU had 23 offensive rebounds but could not convert enough of them and trailed 37-27 at halftime. Dayton outscored VCU 18-9 in the second quarter.
Dayton made it 50-37 midway through the third quarter on a 3-pointer by Burdette.
The Rams cut the lead to 62-55 with 6:45 left in the game but a basket by Burdette made it 67-55 with 3:10 go and the Flyers were not threatened down the stretch.
“We wanted to shut down the 3-point line,” VCU head coach Beth O’Boyle said. “That second quarter really hurt us.”
VCU (16-15) was paced by GG Goodhope, who had 12 points, and reserve Isis Thorpe had 11.
The Flyers had four starters with two fouls in the second quarter, which forced Green to use her bench. Dayton had nine players score and the bench came through with 27 points.
“I think it was good for us,” Burdette said of less playing time for the starters. “I guess fouls are frustrating. We always talk about bringing more energy off the bench.”