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Dayton falls to UConn, but not before putting a scare into top-ranked Huskies.

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ALBANY, New York — After a strong start, Dayton eventually fell short against UConn on Monday.

But the Flyers made a statement about the trajectory of their women's basketball program and got the attention of the Huskies.

"They were just phenomenal," UConn coach Geno Auriemma said. "That was probably one of the best teams we've played in the last five years."

Ally Malott scored all 14 of her points in the first half and Dayton became the first team to lead the Huskies at halftime this season, before eventually falling to the two-time defending national champions 91-70.

"I think we went in there with no fear and we just battled the whole game," Malott said.

The Flyers came out firing, hitting 51.4 percent of their shots in the first half, including 7 of 10 from 3-point range. They took a 44-43 lead into the locker room.

It could have been more when Andrea Hoover's shot from well beyond half court hit the rim and just missed going in at the halftime buzzer.

Malott (14 points), Hoover (13) and Kelley Austria (11), could not stay with the Huskies' big three in the second half.

Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis scored 27 points; Breanna Stewart added 23 points and 16 rebounds and Morgan Tuck had 23 points for the Huskies (36-1).

UConn scored the first nine points of the second half during a 15-3 run to take a 58-47 lead.

PHOTO: Dayton head coach Jim Jabir speaks during a news conference after his team's 91-70 loss to Connecticut in a regional final game in the NCAA women's college basketball tournament on Monday, March 30, 2015, in Albany, N.Y. (AP Photo/Mike Groll)
Dayton head coach Jim Jabir speaks during a news conference after his team's 91-70 loss to Connecticut in a regional final game in the NCAA women's college basketball tournament on Monday, March 30, 2015, in Albany, N.Y. (AP Photo/Mike Groll)

Dayton (28-7) couldn't get within seven the rest of the way thanks in a big part to Mosqueda-Lewis, who finished the game with seven 3-pointers.

"For a long time, we hung around and hung around and I couldn't be more proud," Dayton coach Jim Jabir said. "This was a great day."

The Flyers, who had never been as far as the Sweet 16, upset No. 2 seeded Kentucky and No. 3 seeded Louisville on their run to the program's first Elite Eight.

"It's something I'll remember the rest of my life and I couldn't have asked for a better way to go out my senior year," Malott said.

Jabir said his goal is to use the momentum of this season to help with recruiting and keep the Flyers at this level. He's already heard from a recruit who would not return his calls just a few months ago, he said.

"We'll be back here," Jabir said. "I can promise you, we'll be back here."

TIP-INS:

Dayton: Jabir fell to 0-10 in his career against the Huskies. He was winless in eight games while coaching at Providence from 1996-2002. The Friars lost by an average of 43 points, including a 78-point defeat in 1998. He also lost as coach of the Flyers four years ago. ... Dayton was the fourth No. 7 seed to advance to the regional finals since the NCAA Tournament expanded to 64 teams in 1994. Only Minnesota in 2004 made it to the Final Four.

UConn: Mosqueda-Lewis broke the 3-point mark held by Laurie Koehn of Kansas State and Heather Butler of UT-Martin. They both hit 392. ... The 44 points at the break were the most a UConn opponent had scored against them in the first half since DePaul had 47 in 2008.

SENIOR SUPERLATIVES: Hoover finished her career with 1,848 points and Malott had 1,504. They were most excited of how their season ended.

"If you had told me at the beginning of this season that we would be in the Elite Eight game and leading what probably will be the national champions, I would have thought you were crazy. I'm so proud of my team," Malott.

TALE OF TWO HALVES: Dayton shot 51 percent (18 for 35) in the first half and just 37 percent (10 for 27) in the second.

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