After a slow start in the first half, GW turned on the jets against the Flyers and didn’t look back, defeating Dayton 71-57 at the Smith Center. Guard Nya Robertson was the standout performer of the day with 26 points, one off her career high, as she shot 5-11 from distance and 7-8 from the line.
Coming off the bench like usual, Robertson was an immediate spark when she checked in at the 6:07 mark in the first quarter. Playing fast and free, she floated around the three-point line, pulling shots whenever she had separation. When a three-pointer wasn’t the best option, a pump-fake and drive would get her space inside, leading either to a shot or pass out.
“Just getting in the gym and getting extra shots in, and having good passers that are inside and out, and are able to dish the ball out to me to get a three,” Robertson said of her performance, noting the team’s 17 assists as the catalyst for her scoring.
While only playing 28 minutes, Roberston’s usage was a game-high 41.90%. She also had the third-highest efficiency in the game at 19.00, demonstrating her effectiveness on both ends.
Coming into the game, GW knew Dayton would be a strong rebounding team. With center Mayowa Taiwo second in rebounding in the Atlantic 10, it is not often she has much trouble getting boards. While she ended with a dominant 15 rebounds, GW as a team was outrebounded by six, something that doesn’t often happen in a win. Dayton’s Arianna Smith ended with an impressive 17 rebounds, often out-competing Taiwo on the glass.
“That was the best rebounding team we have played…so it really took everyone to box out and then the guards to come in and crash,” Taiwo said of the team’s rebounding. “Sometimes I can get away without boxing out and then just jumping, so I really had to pay attention to boxing out today,” she said of her own rebounding efforts.
Returning to Foggy Bottom from a game against Loyola and having won their last two, GW knew they were in a good position against an underpowered and struggling Dayton team. A main part of the preparation was to be rested and ready to compete from the tip.
“It was our third game in six days, so I think rest was vital for our team coming into this game,” Coach McCombs said of the team’s preparation for the game.
There might have been some lingering effects of the recent travel, as it took GW most of the first quarter to really get moving offensively. Dayton came out with a strong press and unexpected zone defense that gave GW issues, leading to a Flyers 12-10 lead with 3:05 to play. But from that point, GW went on an 11-0 run the rest of the quarter, giving them a nine-point advantage.
“I think it gave us a little bit of trouble,” Taiwo said of Dayton’s press, “we had prepared for it, but we weren’t expecting them to play us in that the whole game, we also weren’t expecting them to play us in a zone the whole game, so we really had to lock in and remember our zone packages, and just find the open pockets.”
The game slowed back down in the second quarter as GW failed to push the pace too much. Some sloppy passing persisted from GW, especially when trying to get the ball inside to Taiwo, but the damage of turnovers was limited with lockdown defense. GW held Dayton to just 11 points in the quarter. When GW was able to get the ball inside, Taiwo took advantage of some weak post defense, getting easy layups.
“It took us a while to settle down into our zone offense and really just get players to see where the looks were going to be. I think we were really stagnant there for a while so I think the good thing is we can learn from that and we can get better,” McCombs said. “I look at the teams we’re going to play, they’re probably going to play a little bit more zone, especially after seeing our lethargic play.”
Coming out of the locker room in the third quarter didn’t help GW much to shake off the lack of offense in the second quarter, and the 13-point half-time lead was cut to nine. The Dayton press was a factor, as Dayton had six points off turnovers in the quarter, and poor unforced shooting kept GW down and allowed Dayton to close the gap.
Nine points would be the closest the game ever got, as guard Nya Lok and Roberston took over in the fourth quarter to finish off the game strong. The duo scored all GW points in the last ten minutes, with Robertson scoring 12 and Lok adding nine.
Even in a game where GW only shot 35.4% overall, solid three-point shooting at a 39.4% clip and suffocating defense gave Dayton too large of a gap to overcome.
GW will play next at home against Duquesne on February first at 6:00 pm. The game will be broadcasted by the WRGW team and can also be streamed on ESPN+.
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