Published: Friday, March 02, 2018 @ 2:50 PM
By: David Driver - Contributing Writer
RICHMOND, Va. — It could not have worked out better for the Atlantic 10 Conference to have several hundred fans in the seats when the quarterfinals of the women’s tournament began here at coffee-induced 11 a.m. Friday.
A horde of screaming students from Richmond Public Schools were in the stands at the Richmond Coliseum for the first of four games, which by coincidence included the No. 8 seeded Richmond Spiders.
“You don’t really pay attention to that,” Dayton senior forward JaVonna Layfield said of the homecourt edge.
Top-seeded Dayton spoiled the day off of school for the students, overcoming a sluggish start and late scare to win 67-58 and advance to the semifinals on Saturday morning.
Layfield had 17 points and 11 rebounds, Lauren Cannatelli also had 17 points, Jenna Burdette added 14 points and Jayla Scaife had 10 points.
“It is like an away game, really, which is fine,” UD head coach Shauna Green said of the atmosphere.
Dayton (23-5), the defending tourney champion, advances to face No. 5 George Washington, a 64-59 winner over No. 4 George Mason in Friday’s second game.
“We need to be better whomever we play,” said Green, the A-10’s coach of year. “That was a tough opening 1-8 game. You have to try and find a way. We made plays when we had to on the defensive end.”
Cannatelli was 9 of 9 from the foul line, Layfield was 8 of 10, Burdette was 6 of 8 and the Flyers were 26 of 31 as a team.
“I thought it was just a mentality of attack and getting in the paint,” Cannatelli said.
“We preach attack mode every single day,” Green said. “You have to go at them.”
Cannatelli hit two free throws with 36.7 seconds left to make it 62-56 and Burdette made two more with 30.3 to go to make it 64-58 as the Flyers prevailed, after leading by 11 midway through the second quarter.
The Spiders (14-17) had come within 53-52 with 4:00 left in the game on a 3-pointer by Dee Hatcher.
UD won its first 15 conference games this season before falling in the regular-season finale last weekend against Saint Louis. The Flyers got a first-round bye in order to face Richmond, which won on Tuesday against No. 9 seed Davidson.
“I think we responded well,” Green said. “We knew it would be a tough game. I thought we did the things we needed to do and get that (winning) feeling back. All of our games this year, we have not played perfect. Again we found a way. I know we were sluggish to start.”
Early on, the Flyers turned the ball over and Richmond scored nine points in a row to take a 9-6 lead. Dayton responded with a flurry of 3-pointers early in the second quarter during an 11-0 run to take the lead for good.
“Coach stressed that we needed to pick up our intensity,” Layfield said.
Dayton led by 11 points several times in the second quarter and was up 34-26 at halftime as Layfield scored 12 of her points before intermission.
Micaela Parson led Richmond with 24 points.
NOTES: Dayton won the battle of the boards 37-35 and shot 38 percent from the field, including 5 of 16 from 3-point range … Scaife and Kailyn Fee of Richmond were tagged with technicals in the closing seconds with the outcome already decided … The Spiders made just 4 of 20 shots from 3-point range.