On paper, the Colonials knew they were headed to face a tough opponent when they boarded the plane to Dayton.
The No. 17/16 Flyers, who boasted a 15-1 record on the season, and are undefeated in the Atlantic 10, pace the league in 10 categories. They dominate scoring, boasting the nation’s sixth-best offense and rank in the top 15 in the NCAA in field goal percentage and rebound margin.
And though GW (7-11, 1-3 A-10) was able to stick with its A-10 foe through the opening minutes of play, they were ultimately outpaced by the challenging Flyers squad, dropping 80-52.
The game was tightly contested through the beginning of the first half. The Colonials boasted a strong shooting percentage across the early minutes of the half, aided by balanced scoring that spread across the GW stat sheet. Until the final five minutes of the half, the Colonials just managed to keep their heads above water, keeping a narrow lead over the Flyers.
Then, Dayton went on a 15-0 run to close the half, decisively pulling ahead of GW and gaining the kind of momentum swing that seemed destined to carry through the 20-minute break into the next whistle starting play.
The Colonials didn’t score again before halftime after graduate student forward Tara Booker drained a three-pointer with four minutes and 33 seconds left in the first half. And though the team struggled to make shots, it was GW’s battle to control the ball that ultimately gave the Flyers the edge. Four Colonial turnovers after Booker’s trey gave Dayton a clear advantage to take the lead. On the half, Dayton nabbed a 17-2 fast break advantage.
Turnovers would continue to be a sore subject for GW after halftime. The team had 22 total turnovers in the game, fumbles that Dayton would turn into 26 points.
Though the Flyers also picked up a 40-26 advantage in points in the paint, the Colonials remained strong on the boards, maintaining their edge in a rebounding battle that Dayton would only edge by two, 44-42. It was a bright spot born of GW’s tenacious defense, one that picked up a little intensity in the second half. The Flyers slipped to 32.4 percent shooting in the second, but the Colonials’ turnovers made them unable to capitalize on that opportunity.
Indeed, GW’s turnovers affected its own offense, the team finding it hard to implement a cohesive attack under the pressure of numerous slip-ups. The team saw the shooting struggles that closed the first continue onto the second, where it went just 9-for-31, halting any chance of a comeback bid and saddling the Colonials with a final field goal percentage of 35.1.
Compounding the problem was the parallel slide in GW’s chances from three. After shooting 40 percent from the perimeter in the first, the Colonials made just one over the course of the second half.
Booker and senior forward Shi-Heria Shipp led GW in scoring, with 10 points each. Booker was one rebound away from her first double-double of the season, with nine, and Shipp added four boards, and senior forward Megan Nipe added nine points and four rebounds.
But while members of GW’s starting lineup struggled, with senior guard Danni Jackson going 0-10 on the day, the bench was able to provide a 21-12 advantage over Dayton, showcasing the team’s potential depth moving forward.