March 5, 2012
PHILADELPHIA, Pa. - Third-seeded Dayton jumped out to a big early lead and then held on to survive a furious comeback to upset top-seeded St. Bonaventure, 56-53, to claim the 2012 Atlantic 10 Women's Basketball Championship at Michael J. Hagan '85 Arena on the campus of Saint Joseph's University in Philadelphia.
With the championship win, Dayton's first ever as a member of the Atlantic 10 Conference, the Flyers improve to 23-6 on the season and also secure the league's automatic qualifying bid to the NCAA Tournament. This marks the Flyers third consecutive trip to the NCAA Tournament. St. Bonaventure falls to 29-3 with the loss.
The Flyers began the game on a 27-5 run and held the Bonnies in single-digits for the first 16 minutes of the first half. St. Bonaventure responded strongly with a 12-0 run to close the half, going into halftime trailing 27-17.
The Bonnies continued to chip away at the Dayton lead in the second half after converting 14 of 15 attempts from the free throw line along with going 4-7 from three-point range. With 2:16 remaining in the second half the Bonnies took their first lead of the game, 51-50, on a pair of free throws from Alaina Walker.
Dayton regained the lead two possessions later, 52-51, following a Cece Dixon foul and a pair of free throws from Patrice Lalor. The Flyers increased the lead to three after Hoover scored a layup to make it 54-51 with only 23 seconds remaining.
With Dayton still clutching to a 56-53 lead in the closing seconds, St. Bonaventure's Jessica Jenkins saw her potential game-tying three-pointer bounce off the rim to give Dayton its first ever A-10 title.
"I am very proud and very happy to have been the coach of this team. This senior class had a lot of firsts and I am very proud of them," Dayton Head Coach Jim Jabor said. "It truly is a great day to be a Flyer.
Tournament Most Outstanding Player Justine Raterman led the Flyers with 13 points on 4-13 shooting. Patrice Lalor and Andrea Hoover added 11 and nine points, respectively, for Dayton.
Doris Ortega finished as the leading scorer for St. Bonaventure with 18 points and 12 rebounds.
Patrice Lalor, Dayton
Justine Raterman, Dayton (MOP)
Michelle Baker, Saint Joseph's
Megan Van Tatenhove, St. Bonaventure
Shey Peddy, Temple