Dayton edges No. 16 St. Bonaventure
Flyers to make third consecutive NCAA tournament appearance
The Flyers (23-6) dominated early and didn't trail until the final minutes. The Bonnies (29-3) had their 18-game winning streak snapped and must wait for an at-large bid for the program's first spot in the NCAA tournament.
The Flyers, playing in their second consecutive A-10 title game, earned at-large berths to the NCAA tournament each of the last two seasons. Not this season. They mobbed each other, hugged and danced all over the court as the ''conference champions'' sign was taped to the backboard.
St. Bonaventure stormed back to lead 51-50. Patrice Lalor got it right back for Dayton with a pair of free throws and Andrea Hoover's driving layup with 25 seconds left made it 54-51.
Doris Ortega had 18 points and 12 rebounds for the Bonnies, who missed nine of 13 3-point attempts and their chance at relaxing during the selection show. Even with the loss, the Bonnies, and possibly Temple, should join Dayton in the field.
|DAYTON VS. ST. BONAVENTURE|
After their incredible start, the Flyers cooled considerably, and a mostly pro-St. Bonaventure crowd on Saint Joseph's campus went wild with each big bucket. Jessica Jenkins' three with 4:43 left cut Dayton's lead to 45-40 and Megan Van Tatenhove hit a jumper to make it a one-point game.
Alaina Walker completed the grueling comeback with two free throws with 2:16 remaining that gave the Bonnies their first lead of the game, 51-50.
Lalor, who scored 11 points, sank two free throws and the Flyers regained the lead. Hoover sealed it with the layup and Dayton was on its way toward the title.
The Flyers came out playing like the nationally ranked team with a bid all but wrapped up. Dayton huddled on the court after pregame introductions, shared a few laughs and high-fives, then started firing. Hoover opened with a 3-pointer and Raterman hit a 3 to make it 9-2. Elle Queen stole an in-bounds pass, one of St. Bonaventure's 12 first-half turnovers, that led to a layup by Raterman and it was 20-5 - the Flyers would lead by 22.
Dayton started 11 of 22 and 4 of 8 from 3-point range, while the Bonnies missed 14 of 17 and all five 3s.
The Bonnies regrouped and closed the half on a 12-2 run that pulled them to 27-17 at halftime.
Still, it was a stunning 20 minutes for a team that hadn't trailed by a single second in either of their first two tournament games.
The Flyers went scoreless the final 7:25 of the first half and didn't score again until Hoover's jumper 3 minutes into the second half. Dayton's 27-5 lead was sliced to 27-21 in that span.