By: Steven Miller – Staff Writer
Unfazed by a shaky start against stiff competition, the UD women’s basketball team began turning things around in their last three contests.
With a 63-61 victory over Purdue University Sunday, the Flyers moved above .500 for the first time all season and now sit at 4-3 overall.
Tightening up the defense and keeping the offense moving have been the points of emphasis over recent weeks.
Three consecutive victories have helped right the ship, but the team understands the improvements that need to be made in order to jump back into the national conversation.
It was time to jumpstart the season when Dayton hit the court against Providence College Nov. 26 at UD Arena after beginning the season 2-3. The Flyers took care of business as senior guard Andrea Hoover led the team with 27 points and nine rebounds in the 72-56 victory.
After a week’s rest, Dayton traveled across town to the Nutter Center to take on the Raiders of Wright State University Wednesday.
By halftime, the score was tight at 36-35 in Dayton’s favor. In the second half, UD built a nine point lead with under two minutes remaining, but let WSU eek back into the game. The Flyers pulled out the victory, 79-76, but the team was dissatisfied by the fact that they allowed the Raiders to pull so close.
“We’re not winning convincingly the way we all think we should,” senior forward Ally Malott said of the game. Malott was the team’s leading performer in the contest, tallying a double-double with 18 points and 11 rebounds.
Junior guard Amber Deane also discussed the issue.
“We’ll start out games really well and then have dull moments when we lose our energy and intensity,” Deane said. “When we play really hard and really intense, then we’re unstoppable. But when we stop playing hard, then we’re beatable.”
Head coach Jim Jabir agreed with Deane, concerned that the team has not been performing consistently for the full 40 minutes.
“We have to get to a place where we can bring it all the time,” Jabir said, “and we did some good things [in the Wright State game], but we need to keep improving.”
Moving forward, the team will emphasize the need to play with a consistent level of high intensity.
“It’s experimental,” Jabir said of keeping the pressure on. “We have to do it every day in practice, and in our games. We have to think about it and talk about it. It has to become a part of how we are and what we do.”
He understands that this change in mindset will not occur overnight, but needs to be instilled every day.
Unnecessary fouling, giving away turnovers and other such sloppy play are characteristics of this inconsistent focus. Against Wright State, Dayton allowed 30 free throw attempts.
“You cannot beat teams when you’re giving up [so many] foul shots in a game,” Jabir said. “At the end of the day, we have to keep people in front.”
Malott added her thoughts on the fouling, addressing how they hinder Dayton’s pace of play. “Putting people on the line has given our opponents easy buckets,” she said, “and since our strategy is to play fast, we cannot let up, so that hurts us.”
While the team has struggled with sloppy defensive play and inconsistent pace, the Flyers are encouraged by their offensive performance and are confident in their talent.
“We have a team full of really good scorers,” Deane said. “Once we start playing together as a team and running our plays all the way through, we can score at will.”
The talent exists, but the Flyers still need to put each piece of the game together.
“Once we get into the half court and our transition stops,” Deane said, “it’s just a matter of executing our offense because we know [we can score].”
They team will take on the University of Toledo on Wednesday, followed by Central Michigan University Saturday.