At one point in the first half with the University of Akron women’s team trailing by 26 points to No. 16 Dayton, it looked as if the Zips were down for the count.
The Flyers, playing brutal man-to-man defense, had everything working against the Zips. Given their undefeated record coming into the game, they must be doing something right and it continued against the Zips en route to a 90-59 victory.
Center Cassie Sant and teammate Andrea Hover led all scorers with 18 points apiece, followed by teammate Olivia Applewhite with 15 points. In all, four Flyers reached the double-digit mark in scoring.
Forward Rachel Tecca led the Zips with 13 points, followed by Hanna Luburgh with 12 points.
The Zips’ lone flourish came during a 13-4 run to close out the first half. Other than that, the Flyers were determined to not allow UA any semblance of confidence.
“I thought we fought hard at the end of the first half, getting it down to 17,” Zips coach Jodi Kest said.
However, there would be no second-half runs as the Zips couldn’t buy a shot and were generally outplayed by the Flyers.
For anyone looking for the silver lining in this cloud, forget it. Dayton rained down on the Zips offensively and washed them away defensively.
“They’re a championship team and they’re a good team right now. We’re by no means a great team right now,” Kest said.
The Zips gave up far too many easy baskets as Dayton dropped points in from the inside, scoring 48 points in the paint to just 22 for UA. They also were strong from the outside, scoring 30 points from the 3-point arc on 10-of-25 shooting. Overall, they connected on 35-of-75 shots for 47 percent shooting. But give the Flyers credit — they used precision ball movement to get those points in the paint, combining for 25 assists as a team.
It wasn’t much better on the other side of the ball as the Flyers forced 18 turnovers courtesy of a pressing defense that often forced the Zips into poor shot selection. Tecca, Luburgh and Sina King, the Zips’ best three players, couldn’t generate much in the way of offense. The trio combined for 36 points on a combined 11-of-36 shooting.
Kest said the Flyers took advantage of their physical advantages to dominate the game.
“We have to be more physical. We tried to be physical with them, but we need to be physical for 40 minutes. ... We had too many minutes in the game where I don’t think we competed,” she said.
The Zips will get a day to rest before taking on Youngstown State on the road.
George M. Thomas can be reached at email@example.com. Read the Zips blog at http://www.ohio.com/zips. Follow him on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/GeorgeThomasABJ and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/sports.abj.