Preview: Women’s basketball vs. Dayton

What: Women’s basketball (16-8, 9-3 A-10) vs. Dayton (17-7, 11-1 A-10)

Where:  Charles E. Smith Center, Washington, D.C.

When: Sunday, Feb. 12 at noon

Women’s basketball looks to extend its winning streak to four games as it faces off against first-place Dayton in a Sunday matinee nationally televised on ESPNU.

Case for the Colonials:

Their last time out, the Colonials blew out the Rhode Island Rams in a 72-44 road victory, driven by 33 bench points and 30 points off turnovers – a season-high. Senior guard Hannah Schaible snagged a career-high six steals as the Colonials kept it rolling on the road.

Since senior forward Caira Washington returned from a four-game absence on Feb. 1, the Colonials have yet to lose a game, posting an average margin of victory of 16.3 points per game. Paired with partner-in-crime Lexi Martins, a graduate student forward averaging 16.7 points per game in conference play, the Colonials frontcourt has been dominant at times, both offensively and defensively.

The last time these two teams squared off, the Colonials also had a three-game winning streak heading into the matchup. GW will be hungry for revenge after the Flyers snapped its winning streak in a nail-biter at UD Arena, 50-48.

Despite trailing by more than 14 early in the game, GW stormed back to retake a six-point lead late in the game before the Flyers finished on a 4-0 run to steal a victory. The Colonials offense struggled against the Flyers, which owns the league’s second-best field goal percentage defense, holding opponents to 35.5 percent shooting from the field.

However, fortunately for the Colonials, Dayton’s leading scorer Jenna Burdette is sidelined indefinitely with an ankle injury. Burdette, who averages better than 12 points per game, is a preseason All-Conference First Team player who can cause problems for the Colonials’ younger and more inexperienced guards.

This matchup also features the top-two rebounding teams in the conference, with the Colonials (42.6 rpg) owning a small advantage over Dayton (41.7 rpg) in the category. If they win the battle of the boards and cut down on turnovers  – as they have done of late – they should be able to reward a Homecoming crowd with a victory.

Case for the Flyers

The Flyers come to the Smith Center riding an impressive 11-game winning streak and having not lost a game in 2017. Their streak dates all the way back to a 77-65 win over the Massachusetts Minutewomen on New Year’s Eve.

In fact, the Flyers have not lost a game since the end of non-conference play. Their lone conference loss came in an early-December conference matchup with La Salle. They have easily met their expectations coming into the season, when they were voted to finish second in the A-10 preseason poll.

Despite playing without guard Jenna Burdette (12.3 points, 4.7 assists per game), who is sidelined indefinitely, redshirt senior Kelley Austria has picked up the slack with 12.2 points and 3.0 rebounds per game. Senior Saicha Grant-Allen is chipping in 9.9 points and 9.0 rebounds each contest.

Led by Austria, the Flyers, who received a vote in the last AP Top 25 Poll, held the Richmond Spiders to a season-low 39 points in a suffocating defensive effort that saw Austria pour in 24 points on 9-of-12 shooting from the field. Austria was a problem for the Colonials in their first matchup, in which she led UD with 19 points, five rebounds, and three steals.

As a team, Dayton is outscoring opponents by a +6.9 margin and benefits from a +5.0 rebounding margin, both second-best in the conference (behind only the Colonials). Statistically, both teams match up closely in nearly every category, which certainly showed in their first matchup. However, if Dayton gets off to another fast start, don’t expect them to allow the Colonials to come back a second time.

The Bottom Line:

This time, the Colonials have the advantage of playing on their home court and behind their Homecoming crowd in one of their biggest tests thus far in conference play. Both teams know each other’s gameplan, so it will come down to which team is able to execute and get stops. However, with the Washington back in the lineup and Burdette inactive for the Flyers, the Colonials should come away with a close win on Sunday.

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