Updated at: 02/10/2013 8:38 PM
By DOUG FEINBERG
(AP) NEW YORK - Amber Deane scored 14 points and Kelley Austria added 12 to lead help No. 18 Dayton beat Fordham 68-57 on Sunday night.
Despite losing seven seniors from last season’s team that lost to Arkansas in the first round of the NCAA tournament, the Flyers are off to the best start in school history with the lone loss coming against Bowling Green.
The Flyers (21-1, 9-0 Atlantic 10) led by three at the half before Austria took over, scoring six points during a 12-4 run to open the second half. The freshman capped the run with a lay-in that made it 45-34. The lead ballooned to 17 points before Marah Strickland rallied the Rams. She scored 10 points in a 12-0 run to make it 54-49 with 7:30 left.
Brittany Wilson had a putback and Olivia Applewhite a layup to make it a nine-point advantage.
Fordham (16-7, 6-2) could only get within six the rest of the game.
The victory was the 400th of Dayton coach Jim Jabir’s career, including 180 with the Flyers. The win also moved Dayton into sole possession of first in the conference.
It was a tight first half as neither team could get more than a six-point advantage. Trailing 27-25 with 3:32 left before the break, Dayton went on a 8-0 run to take a 33-27 lead. Cassie Sant started the burst with a layup and then capped it with a jumper from the free throw line with 48 seconds left.
Strickland, a sixth-year senior who transferred from South Carolina after spending time at Maryland, hit a deep 3-pointer just before the halftime buzzer to make it 33-30 at the half. She finished the game with 21 points to lead Fordham. Erin Rooney added 18 for the Rams.
The Flyers had a scary moment in the first half when senior Sam MacKay was flattened by a screen. She laid on the floor for the entire media timeout and was helped to the sideline. She didn’t play in the second half.
Dayton had an adventure getting to Fordham because of snowstorm Nemo. The Flyers were originally supposed arrive Friday morning to New York, but the flight was canceled. The team debated taking a nine-hour bus ride before finding out that it wasn’t an option. Finally director of basketball operations Nerlande Nicholas got the team on a flight Saturday afternoon. The start of Sunday’s game was officially pushed back five hours to accommodate the Flyers.
The Flyers wore their pink uniforms in honor of former North Carolina State coach Kay Yow. Dayton will be sporting the uniforms for all their road games during the rest of the regular season. The team was touched this season when sophomore guard Andrea Hoover lost a family friend, who was a big fan of the program, to bile duct cancer.
The team will auction off the jerseys at the end of the season.
Fordham was trying to earn its first victory over a ranked team. The Rams were winless in its previous 11 chances against Top 25 opponents.
Despite the loss, Fordham is off to one of the best start in school history. The Rams have already clinched their first winning season since 1994-95. Not too shabby, considering the program set the NCAA record for futility in a season going 0-29 in 2008.
The Rams won 10 games out of conference _ the first time they’ve reached double digits victories since 1983-84. They’ve also already won their most Atlantic-10 games since joining the conference in 1996. The team was picked 11th in the preseason conference poll.
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