Women's Hoops Upsets Top-Seeded Dayton in A-10 Semifinals

Kelsi Mahoney celebrates one of her four three pointers that she hit in GW's upset of top-seeded Dayton on Saturday at the Richmond Coliseum.
Kelsi Mahoney celebrates one of her four three pointers that she hit in GW's upset of top-seeded Dayton on Saturday at the Richmond Coliseum.
March 3, 2018

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RICHMOND, Va. - The George Washington women's basketball team advanced to the Atlantic 10 Championship game for the third time in the last four seasons when it upset top-seeded and regular-season champion Dayton, 58-53, on Saturday at the Richmond Coliseum in the A-10 Semifinals.

GW will face No. 6 Saint Joseph's in Sunday's championship game at 12:00 p.m. with a conference title and automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament on the line.

The Colonials (18-13) used the same game plan that was successful in Friday's quarterfinal win over George Mason: suffocating defense and ball protection. GW limited Dayton, which had entered the tournament as the top-scoring offense in the league, to just 53 points. GW also committed a season-low one turnover in the contest.

GW's upperclassmen led the way as senior Brianna Cummings finished with a game-high 15 points and six rebounds. Junior Kelsi Mahoney hit four mammoth three-pointers to finish with 12 points, along with five rebounds, one block and one steal. Senior Kelli Prange added 10 points and eight rebounds.

But the Colonials also got huge production from a pair of freshmen. Neila Luma double-doubled against Dayton's vaunted front court with 12 points and 10 rebounds while classmate Chyna Latimer played 18 productive minutes off the bench, finishing with a basket and contributing tough defense.

The first quarter was a sign of things to come as the teams traded a number of runs throughout the first 10 minutes. The Colonials opened on a 6-0 run, only to be answered by a 5-0 spurt from Dayton. GW hit back with five unanswered points, punctuated by three from Mahoney. The Flyers got the last punch in to end the first quarter and held a 14-13 after 10 minutes of play.

Dayton extended its lead to five points to open the second stanza but a big three pointer by Mahoney pulled the Colonials back to within one point of the lead at 20-19 with 6:48 to play in the half. From there, the Colonials defense limited Dayton to just 1-of-7 from the field over the final six minutes of the half to take a 27-25 lead into halftime.

The third quarter was the closest of the game with two ties and two lead changes. The Flyers had momentum out of the break and used a 7-4 run to to seize a one-point lead at 32-31 but consecutive baskets by the freshman duo of Luma and Latimer put the Colonials back on top 35-32. Neither team hit a field goal from that point on, trading only free throws over the final 3:15 of the stanza and GW was clinging to a 37-34 lead entering the fourth.

The Flyers opened the fourth with four straight points to retake a one-point lead, but it would be the last time they would be on top. A layup by Prange with 5:38 gave the Colonials the lead for good at 42-40, but GW still had to fight off Dayton for the final five minutes of the game. A pair of free throws by Cummings put GW on top by four and Mahoney drilled a three pointer off a dime from Mei-Lyn Bautista to extend the lead to seven points with 4:07 left. Dayton answered however and pulled within three points twice more, the second time they were turned away again by Mahoney, who dialed up another three pointer to put GW on top by six, 50-44, with 2:04 left.

Dayton refused to go quietly and stayed within striking distance but GW hit 8-of-10 free throws down the stretch to ice the game.

GW held a 24-18 advantage on points in the paint and a 12-4 edge in bench production while grabbing 36 rebounds. GW's defense also forced 11 turnovers and cashed in on 10 points because of the miscues.

Sunday's championship game will air on ESPNU at 12:00 p.m.



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