Seventh-seeded Dayton shot better than 56 percent from the field Sunday, including a smoking 61 percent (11 of 18) from three-point range, and the Flyers upset No. 2 seed Kentucky 99-94 in NCAA Women’s Tournament second-round action at Memorial Coliseum.
Kentucky point guard Makayla Epps scored 22 of her 29 points in the second half to keep the Wildcats close. UK led 45-42 at intermission, but couldn’t hold off the Flyers’ long-range shooting in the late going. Kentucky finishes its season with a record of 24-10 while Dayton advances to the Sweet 16 with a record of 27-6.
Senior Jennifer O’Neill had 16 points, six rebounds and five steals for the Cats while Bria Goss added 12 points. The Cats played without senior center Azia Bishop, who was suspended by coach Matthew Mitchell for ”failure to uphold team standards.” She apparently violated a team curfew Saturday night.
The Flyers Flyers advanced to the Sweet 16 for the first time in school history behind Ally Malott, who scored 28 points, and Amber Deane, who added 23 to keep the school around after bowing out with first-round defeats in their five previous appearances.
”It’s funny – you go to the NCAA Tournament six years in a row and you don’t get out of the first weekend (the first five times), and you start doubting yourself a little bit. What am I doing wrong and what can we do better?” Dayton coach Jim Jabir said. ”Our team is very, very resilient.They really believed that we could win this game. We worked really hard to put them in a place where mentally that they believed they could.”
Kelley Austria made four free throws in the final 21 seconds and added 17 points for Dayton, which hit 11 3-pointers to help overcome 24 turnovers. Her 3-pointer with 1:09 left broke a 87-87 tie.
”Every time we needed a big bucket, someone contributed and it wasn’t the same person every time,” Malott said. ”We had contributions from everyone – everyone did their job.”
The Flyers, who won their seventh straight game, will face the winner of Monday’s game between Louisville and South Florida in the Albany Regional semifinals.
Bishop was averaging 6.3 points and 5.5 rebounds per game and had started the seven previous games, scoring six points in Kentucky’s 97-52 win over Tennessee State in the opening round of the tourney.
The contest featured nine ties and nine lead changes and neither team led by more than nine points.
Kentucky defeated the Flyers 84-70 in the tournament in 2013 but couldn’t repeat the feat without one of its senior post players.
”Malott had a fantastic day and Deane had a fantastic day, and they just played up to their abilities and their best,” Mitchell said. ”It just didn’t seem like we ever had that fire in our belly to advance.”
The teams combined for 61 fouls and 69 free throws. Dayton converted 28 of 31 from the line while Kentucky was 24 for 38.
The Wildcats, who were 14-3 at home this season, saw their streak of 54 straight non-conference wins in Memorial Coliseum come to an end. Kentucky’s four seniors (Azia Bishop, Bria Goss, Jennifer O’Neill and Jelléah Sidney) concluded their careers as the winningest class in school history with 108 victories.
“A disappointing end to a season that I will always remember,” Mitchell said. “And I’m real grateful to our seniors. They had a great career here and what they did for us down the stretch to help us know what we need to know what we need to do going forward I’ll always remember.”
From UK Athletics
Courtesy of KyForward