Every tournament needs a Cinderella and seventh-seed Dayton is filling the role admirably in the Albany regional. Dayton’s devil-may-care attitude in this NCAA tournament is epitomized by Andrea Hoover, the senior who said before their upset win over number three seed Louisville, “We aren’t just happy to be here…we came here to win.”
The Lady Flyers believe they belong, and they sure showed it against both Kentucky Thursday in the round of 32 and against Louisville in the Sweet Sixteen Saturday afternoon. Led by Hoover’s 26 points, the Flyers took control of the game early. Some might say that Louisville’s seniors simply had an off-shooting night (1 for a bunch from beyond the arc) or that Jeff Walz relied too heavily on a pair of freshmen who were not ready for this level of tournament pressure. In truth though, Dayton’s tenacity on defense took Louisville out of its game — and the Cardinal’s go-to, ice-in-her-veins former star, Shoni Schimmel, was in the stands with her family — not on the court with her little sister Jude, unable to stop Dayton’s runs with a timely 3.
Dayton has made it to the Elite Eight for the first time in the team’s history. It’s just too bad they have to face Connecticut Monday night. The Lady Huskies are using the Albany Regional to strike fear into the hearts of the teams it may face in Tampa Bay next weekend. Another pummeling of an inferior opponent is on the horizon. But while Cinderella’s coach is likely to turn into a pumpkin before midnight, the Flyers have proved that they belong on the same court with the rest of the contenders to Connecticut’s throne.