DAYTON - The University of Dayton women's basketball team will begin its NCAA Division I Tournament on Saturday at 4 p.m. ET in Louisville, Ky. against the fifth-seeded Tennessee Volunteers.
The Flyers are the No. 12 seed and take on the eight-time national champions Tennessee at the KFC Yum! Center in downtown Louisville.
ABOUT THE FLYERS
Dayton returns to the NCAA Tournament for the seventh time in eight years after winning the regular season and tournament championships for the Atlantic 10. The Flyers enter the tournament with a 22-9 record overall and 13-3 A-10 mark. UD rides a four-game winning streak under first-year head coach Shauna Green.
As a team, the Flyers rank 13th in the nation in field goal percentage defense, holding opposing teams to 35 percent from the field. Dayton is outscoring opponents by a +6.6 margin to go with a +5.0 rebounding advantage. UD shoots 39.4 percent from the floor, 34.5 percent from three point range, and 68.3 percent from the free throw line.
The Flyers are led by redshirt senior and A-10 Defensive Player of the Year Kelley Austria, who is averaging 12.3 points and 3.0 rebounds per game. Junior Jenna Burdette is coming off a stellar A-10 Tournament and chips in 12.2 points and 4.7 assists per game. Senior Saicha Grant-Allen is contributing 10.0 points and 8.8 rebounds each contest as well.
The Flyers' first opponent in the NCAA Tournament will be the fifth-seed Tennessee Lady Volunteers. UT heads into the weekend with a 19-11 record overall and 10-6 SEC record. The Lady Vols lost their lone neutral site contest this year in the SEC Tournament to Alabama. Head coach Holly Warlick is in her fifth season at UT with a 127-45 record overall. This is the fifth straight NCAA Tournament appearance under Coach Warlick.
Overall, the Vols led the SEC in defensive rebounds and fewest fouls per game. UT averages 73.9 points per game while giving up just 65.9 to opponents. The Vols shoot 43.3 percent from the floor, 34.6 percent from behind the arc, and 75.1 percent from the charity stripe.
Leading the way is redshirt junior Diamond DeShields, who is averaging 17.2 points, 6.6 rebounds, and 3.9 assists per game. Redshirt junior Mercedes Russell has been just as effective with 16.3 points and a team-high 9.5 rebounds each contest as well. Junior Jaime Nared rounds out the scoring leaders with 15.5 points per game.
LAST TIME OUT
Dayton won the 2017 Atlantic 10 Tournament Championship on March 5 in Richmond, Va., with a 70-56 victory over Duquesne. The Flyers trailed by nine at the start of the second quarter, but outscored the Dukes 16-7 over the next 10 minutes as UD powered its way to win No. 22 on the season.
Tennessee suffered a 72-64 loss to Alabama in the opening game of the SEC Tournament in Greenville, S.C. The Lady Vols shot 35.8 percent from the field and hit just one three while the Crimson Tide shot 42.4 percent from the floor. UT was swept by Alabama on the season.
The Flyers and Lady Vols have played just twice previously, in 2010 and 1986. Dayton fell to Tennessee in both contests, including the last match-up in 2010 in the NCAA Tournament in Knoxville.
The Flyers have made 10-consecutive postseason appearances between the NCAA Division I Tournament and the Women's National Invitational Tournament. Here are the past 10 campaigns
Year Record Postseason
2016-17 22-9 NCAA Tournament
2015-16 14-15 WNIT - 1st Round
2014-15 27-6 NCAA Tournament - Elite Eight
2013-14 23-8 NCAA Tournament - 1st Round
2012-13 28-3 NCAA Tournament - 2nd Round
2011-12 23-7 NCAA Tournament - 1st Round
2010-11 21-12 NCAA Tournament - 1st Round
2009-10 25-8 NCAA Tournament - 1st Round
2008-09 21-14 WNIT - 2nd Round
2007-08 25-9 WNIT - 1st Round