The Lady Vols (20-11) used a strong second half to pull away from the 12th-seeded Flyers (22-10), shooting 52 percent after halftime to earn the victory. DeShields and Mercedes Russell wouldn’t let the Flyers couldn’t mount a comeback. They scored 23 of Tennessee’s 37 points in the second half to lead the way.
Dayton started the game miserably. After getting two free throws in the opening 14 seconds to take an early lead, the Flyers made just one of their first 16 shots. That enabled the Lady Vols to take an 18-4 lead after a Schaquilla Nunn layup with 1:33 left in the opening quarter.
But that’s when Tennessee went cold. The Lady Vols made just 4 of 16 shots in the second quarter. The Flyers went on a 9-2 run midway through the period, with Jordan Wilmoth’s 3-pointer cutting Tennessee’s lead to just 25-22 with 2:21 remaining in the half. They continued chipping away from there, with Lauren Cannatelli’s free throws with 16 seconds left tying the game at 29.
Dayton again took the lead in the opening seconds of the third quarter, on an Alex Harris layup. However, the Flyers scored just three points over the last six minutes of the quarter and Tennessee led 51-42 after three.
Russell and Nunn finished with 14 each.
Harris and JaVonna Layfield led the Flyers with 10 points each.
Tennessee, the only school to make every NCAA tournament, improved to 29-1 in first-round games. The Lady Vols advanced to play host Louisville on Monday in the second round.