Updated: Jan. 21, 2018 at 9:04 p.m.
On Sunday, women’s basketball – last year’s Atlantic 10 regular season champions – went head-to-head with Dayton, the reigning conference champions.
The Flyers (14-4, 7-0 A-10) – led by guards junior Lauren Cannatelli (17 points), sophomore Jayla Scaife (17 points) and senior Jenna Burdette (16 points) – outlasted GW’s (8-10, 3-3 A-10) defense and came away with a 66–55 victory.
Despite overcoming an 11-point deficit and grabbing a lead in the second quarter, the Colonials couldn’t hold off a fast paced Flyer offense, giving up 23 fast break points in the loss.
“They’re just really good and dangerous in transition,” head coach Jennifer Rizzotti said. “They have really good shooters, they have post players that can run the floor and then they’ve got post players that can push the ball themselves so it’s a really hard team to match up with.”
Both sides were shooting well in the first half and GW was winning the rebound battle. At the break, the Colonials were 14-for-31 from the field and 6-of-11 from beyond the arc. Dayton was shooting 75 percent from the three-point line and 53.6 percent from the field.
The Flyers outrebounded the Colonials 36-29 by the end of the game.
“We’ve got make sure we come out of this halftime and start the third quarter with the same mentality,” Rizzotti said. “Dayton’s experience and their upperclassmen really took the game over in that third quarter.”
The Colonials were led by senior guard Brianna Cummings, who picked up 14 points and five rebounds, and senior forward Kelli Prange, who scored 13 points and grabbed nine rebounds.
To begin the contest, Cannatelli hit two consecutive three-point shots to pull ahead of the Colonials 6–2. After junior forward Kelsi Mahoney responded with a shot from beyond the arc, Dayton went on a 7-0 run to push its advantage to 11 points.
Mahoney and Cannatelli both went 4-for-6 from behind the three-point line during the matchup.
The Flyers held the Colonials scoreless for seven minutes before another three from Mahoney cut Dayton’s lead to eight points.
“I knew that every shot, whether it was mine or anyone else on the team’s, every shot mattered,” Mahoney said. “We needed to make sure we were getting the right shots in.”
After failing to score in the first, Cummings opened the second frame with her first basket of the game to continue a 10-0 run.
Baskets from junior guard Mei-Lyn Bautista and Mahoney gave GW its first lead of the game within the third minute of the second half. Burdette responded two unanswered baskets and helped move the Flyers ahead by as many as eight points less than five minutes later.
The Colonials went into halftime trailing 36–34.
“We were just playing straight up five man-to-man defense and that allowed us to get some stops, allowed them to be a little slower in transition,” Cummings said. “We were able to get some shots and charge back into it so by the end of the second it was a very close game.”
GW continued on a 15-4 run that started at the end of the second quarter. A three-point shot from Mahoney put the Colonials up by three points, their largest lead of the night.
The Flyers broke away toward the end of the third, taking advantage of missed shots from GW and crashing the boards. With 1:13 left in the quarter, the Flyers went on a 4-of-5 run from the field, with GW going 1-for-9.
With 5:15 left in the game, Cannatelli hit her fourth distance shot of the night to give the Flyers a 61-49 advantage, their largest lead of the night.
“In the second half things didn’t go our way, whether that was fatigue or just not being focused we weren’t able to do the same things,” Cummings said.
GW returns to action Wednesday against Rhode Island at the Smith Center. Tip off is slated for 11 a.m.