By: Steve Miller – Asst. Sports Editor
The Dayton women’s basketball team is on fire.
Laced with sharp shooters, this talented squad has torn through the recent slate of opponents en route to a 14-4 record, 5-1 in the Atlantic 10 thus far.
The Flyers closed out 2014 on an eight-game winning streak punctuated by a 98-point effort against Central Michigan University in their last nonconference matchup.
Senior guard Andrea Hoover, when asked about the high-scoring contest, spoke of the offense’s execution of the game plan.
“We are similar offensively [to Central Michigan], we both like to keep the game fast-paced,” Hoover said. “We had a lot of wide open shots that we were knocking down. It really helped us get into an offensive flow, and we were getting some easy transition buckets. That’s how our offense is supposed to be.”
Before the season, the team stressed high pace offense as their key to success, and that game plan has really come around for them in recent weeks.
Dayton did hit a bump in the road, however, in its first conference matchup of the season—a home loss to George Washington University.
They dropped the game 69-66, and Hoover expressed what the team learned from the aching defeat. “We have to build off momentum and keep the practices really upbeat and intense,” she said. “We can’t wait until we lose to start having good practices, we have to keep those up throughout the year and start building for [the postseason].”
It appears the Flyers have intensified their approach, winning five consecutive conference games after the loss.
One of those wins came against St. Bonaventure Jan. 18, a significant victory, and the team rode the momentum through this week.
On Wednesday, UD took on the University of Rhode Island at home, and blew out the Rams 77-33. Jenna Burdette, Kelley Austria, Ally Malott, Amber Deane, and Hoover all had double digit points. In addition, every Flyer but one scored in the game.
“It was a great team effort,” head coach Jim Jabir said after the game. “We’ve had a really good week of practice, and have seen consistent growth. But we can’t be satisfied, we have a lot of work to do.”
About the great ball movement and passing Dayton exhibited in the game, Jabir said, “I think sometimes we’re a little too unselfish. We pass up some good shots to pass to somebody who is covered. But we can’t be too disappointed [with this game].”
On Saturday, the Flyers traveled to Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, Virginia, downing the other A-10 Rams 75-56. Hoover led Dayton with 24 points, and Amber Deane recorded a double-double with 13 points and 11 rebounds.
In each of the team’s last four conference wins, Dayton has scored at least 75 points. Seventy has been the magic number for the Flyers over the last several seasons. Dayton is now 99-10 when scoring 70 points or more in a game since the 2009-2010 season.
Senior forward Ally Malott spoke of how this statistic reflects the offensive style Jabir has instituted. “We definitely try to play really fast and score within the first eight to 10 seconds of every possession, so that contributes to the total point values. Also, we’re so deep that teams get tired when we’re still running on them.”
The depth that Malott discussed was definitely a factor against VCU. After the Rams hung with UD for much of the first half, the Flyers pulled away to a 19-point win by the game’s conclusion.
Despite having a rating percentage index of 14th in the nation presently, Dayton is unsatisfied knowing their need to finish out the season strong to carry momentum into the postseason tournaments.
“The A-10 is a really tough conference,” Malott said of her competition, “there are a lot of really improved teams, and we know we have a tough stretch coming up.”
UD is the highest-ranked A-10 team, and was unanimously picked in the preseason coaches’ poll to win the conference.
They play this week at the University of Richmond Wednesday, and at home against Saint Louis University on Saturday.