The Colonials exited the court in Dayton Saturday with the stage already set for a second chance at revenge.
After losing 75-59 to the Flyers, the Colonials must now prepare to return to Dayton for the first round of the Atlantic 10 tournament Tuesday. It’s a chance to avenge the last regular season game, and a chance for payback after Dayton ousted GW in the first round of the 2010 A-10 tournament.
But before the conference standings were announced Saturday, head coach Mike Lonergan said he would not relish returning to Ohio if the Colonials were again paired against Dayton.
“It was a disappointing loss but I give them credit, they are a very good team,” Lonergan said. “They played more physical than us.”
The Colonials were bested from the beginning of play when the Flyers exploded out on a six-point run, a lead the team would hold for the entirety of the game. Tony Taylor finally snapped Dayton’s run, first putting the Colonials on the board with a smooth jumper.
The senior guard, along with junior forward David Pellom and junior guard Lasan Kromah, were the front of GW’s offense Saturday, scoring 51 of the Colonials 59 total points. Taylor finished with 17 points, Pellom with 18 and nine boards and Kromah added 16 on the game.
Pellom’s statistics narrowly missed netting the junior his fifth consecutive double-double. His performance was a boost to GW after questions about his health surfaced in the time leading up to the game. Pellom, who battled a left knee injury earlier in the season, saw the condition return in the days leading up to the game at Dayton, and didn’t practice prior to the contest. At first, the forward said, he slowed his play on the court, but soon focused on continuing his strong record of performance.
“I was just second-guessing myself about turning and twisting back and forth but I just calmed down and told myself that I am alright,” Pellom said.
The Flyers outshot the Colonials on the day, particularly from three, where they shot 62.5 percent, compared to GW’s 37.5. Dayton edged GW at the boards slightly, earning a 31-25 advantage, and better capitalized on Colonial mistakes: despite both teams committing 12 turnovers, the Flyers picked up an 18-8 advantage in points off turnovers.
Trying to find a solution to Dayton’s shooting, Lonergan switched between man-to-man defense and different zone attempts, using a 2-3 and a 1-3-1 at different points in the game. The most successful defense of the day was the 1-3-1, Lonergan said, but it still didn’t make up for the rest of the approaches falling flat.
“We got a little bit of length and I thought we did a decent job because we struggled to guard them off the dribble,” Lonergan said. “I thought it got us a little bit within striking distance. You got to play better man-to-man defense so you don’t have to rely on the 1-3-1.”
Further impeding GW’s progress was the amount the Flyers headed to the line, especially junior forward Dwayne Smith, who was in foul trouble by the end of the first half. By the end of play, Smith had fouls, limiting the minutes Lonergan kept him on the court to 12 minutes, a serious depletion to GW’s frontcourt.
The Colonials saw the gap widen during the second half to as much as 20 points before the team went on a 6-0 run. But that stretch of aggressive GW play, where the Colonials almost matched the Flyers’ field goal percentage at 45.5 percent and 46.2 percent, respectively, was not enough as Dayton continued to outscore GW.
“[GW needs to] keep being aggressive and taking good shots. We have to continue to rebound the ball. We rebounded really well in the first half but then they killed us on the backboard the second,” Taylor said. “We have do a better job of containing the ball so they don’t get as many threes as they did today.”
Taylor, who clocked 35 minutes in the fight against Dayton, said the team would keep a positive outlook going into the tournament despite being in the midst of a four-game slide.
The Colonials, the No. 11 seed in the A-10 tournament, have a chance for retribution– both for Saturday’s loss and for the first-round defeat two seasons ago.
“We have another chance, that’s how we’re looking at it. We have a big opportunity on Tuesday to win, to win one game,” Taylor said. “We just have to take it one game at a time.”