This post was written by Hatchet staff writer Nora Princiotti.
Who: GW (12-4, 3-0) vs. Dayton (9-4, 2-0)
When: Thursday, Jan. 16 @ 9:00 p.m.
Where: University of Dayton Arena
This Thursday could see a changing of the guard, as this year’s surprising GW squad travels to Dayton to clash with last year’s regular season champion. The Colonials have won their last eight games, the Flyers their last seven, and by the end of the night one team will have a black mark on a previously perfect conference record.
Case for Dayton:
The Flyers received 12 out of 13 first-place votes in the Atlantic 10 preseason poll after posting a perfect 14-0 conference record last season and making it to the second round of the NCAA tournament. It was their fourth-consecutive tournament berth, coming in a year when they were ranked as high as No. 11.
Simply put, Dayton scores a lot of points – almost 88 per game. Each member of the Flyers starting five averages at least 12 ppg, led by junior guard Andrea Hoover at more than 17 ppg.
The Flyers can score from anywhere, too. Dayton makes nearly seven threes per game, and the inside duo of 6-foot-3 center Cassie Sant and 6-foot-4 Ally Mallot will give the Colonials bigs plenty to handle. Sant is shooting an A-10 best 57.1 percent from the field, while Mallott pulls down almost nine boards per game.
And if history is to serve as a guide, things don’t look good for the Colonials. GW has lost its last six matchups with the Flyers, including a 74-49 season-ending defeat in the quarterfinals of last years A-10 tournament. Worse news still is the fact that Dayton was the sixth-youngest team in the NCAA last year, with much of that dominant squad back for 2014.
Dayton has the home-court advantage and has designated Thursday a “Red Out,” with $1 tickets for those wearing red, so a packed crowd could be the case at UD Arena. It will take extra focus and confidence from the Colonials to avoid being rattled, especially at the free-throw line.
Case for GW:
Luckily for the Colonials, much has changed since preseason rankings were released in October. Dayton climbed as high as No. 11 last year, but is currently unranked with a 9-4 record. GW, on the other hand, has been trending upwards, holding a 12-4 record and having recently knocked off defending A-10 champion Saint Joseph’s.
GW has forced turnovers and cashed in on them all season long – good news when going against the Flyers. Dayton gives up the rock more than 20 times per game, one of the few statistical categories in which opponents are besting them. Taking scoring chances away from Hoover and Sant, especially, would go a long way in containing an offense that shoots over 46 percent from the field.
Going 7-12 from three point range was a huge part of GW’s win over Saint Joseph’s, and a repeat performance from beyond the arc would help the Colonials keep pace with the Flyers’ offense. The possible return of sharp-shooter Megan Nipe, who is day-to-day with a knee injury, would be a welcome boost.
Graduate student Danni Jackson has been igniting the team in Nipe’s absence, posting her first career double-double last weekend against Saint Louis and breaking an all-time team record in assists, with 14. Her confidence and ability to dish it out should help steady GW in a tough away atmosphere.
The road win would be a tough get, but with a strong defensive stand the Colonials could do it. If GW can pull it off, on national television, it would cement them as one of the top three teams to beat in the A-10.