LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) Dayton head coach Jim Jabir said he had been ”begging” Ally Malott to take over a game, and he got his wish on Friday.
The 6-foot-4 senior pulled down 12 rebounds to go along with her 18 ponts, and led seventh-seeded Dayton (26-6) past 10th-seed Iowa State, 78-66, in the first round of the women’s NCAA tournament.
Nicole Kidd Blaskowski’s 3-pointer cut Iowa State’s 17-point deficit to seven with 2:32 remaining. But that was as close as the Cyclones would come before succumbing to Dayton. Iowa State also had nine of its 12 turnovers in the second half.
”We were extremely careless,” said Iowa State head coach Bill Fennelly. ”We only had three at halftime. They made some good defensive plays but we made some ridiculous decisions.”
First in the Atlantic-10 conference this season in field goal percentage, Dayton continued that trend into the post-season; it shot 48 percent, including 16-of-28 in the first half. Malott made seven of her 13 shots.
”We made sure we were doing all the little things well, offensively and defensively,” Jabir said. ”I thought we were very efficient with our offense. Ally and Hoover came up really big.”
The Flyers rode a balanced scoring approach to a 17-point lead in the second half. Four players scored in double figures, led by Hoover with 20, Malott’s 18, Saicha Grant-Allen with 13 and Kelley Austria with 11.
”I think we ran our stuff pretty well today,” Jabir said. ”The kids have focused in lately about doing what we do, and that’s been our mindset – do what we do, do your job. When we execute, we’re pretty good. When we don’t execute, it gets muddy.”
Iowa State also had four players in double figures, led by Nikki Moody with 17, but the Cyclones went cold in the second half and made 31 percent of their shots, compared to their 45-percent clip in the first half.
After Iowa State pulled within seven, Dayton closed the game on an 8-3 run, highlighted by an Amber Deane jumper and four Hoover free throws that put away any lingering possibility of a Cyclones comeback.
Although the Flyers built a sizable lead by the second half, there were three ties and four lead changes in the first half. Trading blows after Dayton hit three of its first four shots, the teams ended up in a 20-20 tie before Malott and Deane hit back-to-back threes and gave the Flyers a six-point cushion with 9:06 until halftime. The former highlighted the inside-out nature of Malott’s game on Friday, as she scored from seemingly everywhere on the court.
”I knew coming in they were undersized,” Malott said. ”We really wanted to put the ball inside and I had a couple of early layups that helped me find my flow. My teammates did a good job of finding me. It was a good game.”
Iowa State pulled even with 4:35 remaining in the first half after an Emily Durr basket made it 31-31. But Dayton, which shot 57 percent from the field in the first half, went on an 11-3 run to close the half. Five different Flyers scored during that stretch, which concluded with a Hoover three-pointer with 49 seconds on the clock. Dayton headed into the break with a 42-34 advantage.
Dayton will move on to the second round Sunday to play the winner between No. 2 Kentucky and No. 15 Tennessee State.
Dayton: The Flyers were first in the A-10 this season in 3-point shooting. …The Flyers nearly doubled up Iowa State in points in the paint, scoring 30 compared to the Cyclones’ 16. … Dayton made 17-of-26 from the free-throw line, including 8-of-10 from Hoover … Dayton head coach Jim Jabir described Iowa State head coach Bill Fennelly as a ”mentor” who he has known for a couple of decades. This was the first time the coaches have played each other.
Iowa State: The Cyclones pulled off a huge win at home over Baylor, but couldn’t use that momentum in the NCAA Tournament.