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Dayton unable to 'fly' past Cardinal in Gulf Coast Showcase semifinals

The Stanford Cardinal, led by freshman forward Alanna Smith, defeated the Dayton Flyers 74-66 in tonight’s Gulf Coast Showcase semifinals. The Cardinal are set to face the winner of tonight’s Purdue vs. Louisville matchup in the finals tomorrow at 7:30 p.m.

Isabella Mesquita - Swish Appeal

Estero, FL -- The Stanford Cardinal will advance to the Gulf Coast Showcase finals, after defeating the Dayton Flyers 74-66 tonight, led by freshman forward Alanna Smith with a career-high 22 points.

"I've been working on my outside shot a lot for the past couple of months," Smith said. "I think this game they just finally started to drop for me."

Tonight's game started off to a fast pace, with both teams shooting over 47 percent from the field in the first half.  Stanford junior forward Erica McCall (8) and Smith (6) were off to a hot start, combining for all 14 of the Cardinal's points in the first period. Early in the second, Stanford went on a 6-0 run along with holding Dayton to one field goal in five minutes. However, three 3-pointers with two minutes left in the half gave the Flyers a 40-33 lead heading into the locker room.

"We fought really hard," Smith said. "We were down by 10 at one point, and we just fought our way back and hustled."

The Cardinal went on a 7-0 run at the beginning of the second half, holding the Flyers scoreless for three minutes, and getting their first lead at 45-47. Though Stanford committed nine second-half turnovers, the Cardinal created opportunities to score by getting to the free-throw line where they shot 90 percent, going 9-for-10, in the final 20 minutes.

"Alanna played great, and our whole team battled," Stanford head coach Tara VanDerveer said. "Dayton is an excellent team. We had to battle back, so I'm really proud of how we played."

The Cardinal will play against the winner of tonight's Purdue vs. Louisville matchup in the Gulf Coast Showcase finals tomorrow at 7:30 p.m.