No. 6 Dayton will play No. 11 Florida in the second game of the day at the Bryce Jordan Center in State College, Pa., on March 23. The winner will play either No. 3 Penn State or No.14 Wichita State on March 25.
Dayton (23-7) is making their fifth consecutive trip to the NCAA tournament after winning the Atlantic 10 regular-season title. The Flyers, who are 11-2 in their last 13 games, fell to Fordham in the conference tournament championship game.
Andrea Hoover, the Atlantic 10 Player of the Year, leads a well balanced Dayton team. Hoover averages17.2 points per game while also grabbing 5.4 rebounds and 3.6 assists a game. Hoover also has knocked down a team-high 66 three-pointers this season. Ally Malott, who was selected the A-10 First Team, tallies 14.5 points a game and a team best 8.2 rebounds. Amber Deane (13.2), Kelley Austria (11.4) and Cassie Sant (10.9) also score in double figures. Austria will miss the NCAA tournament as she underwent ACL surgery in February.
Dayton averages 82 points a game (13th in the nation) – the Flyers have topped the century mark three times this season—and give up 72.6 points a contest. Dayton shoots 44.9 percent from the floor and 34.4 percent from beyond the arc. The Flyers are an excellent rebounding team (44.0) and free throw shooting team (76.4 percent).
Florida (19-12) has played in 17 games that have been decided by 10 or fewer points and are 10 -7 in those games. The Gators are just 3-6 in their last nine games and are 7-8 in road/neutral court games.
Jaterra Bonds leads Florida with 15.6 points and 4.3 assists per game. She is hitting 44.9 percent of her shots from the floor and 82.3 percent from the free throw line . Kayla Lewis (11.9 ppg) and Cassie Peoples (10.2 ppg) also average double figures while January Miller adds 9.3 points per game.
Florida averages 75.1 points a game and surrenders 70.1 points a contest. The Gators shoot 44.5 percent from the field and 32.9 percent from beyond the arc.
Florida uses a eight player rotation where each player averages at least 17 minutes a game and 5.8 points a game.
Keys to the game
Florida causing havoc on the defensive end and getting out in transition
Florida, which forces19.8 turnovers a contest, uses a speedy five guard to cause havoc on the defensive end. The Gators average 9.2 steals a game and have three players -- Peoples (52), Lewis (44) and Bonds (43) -- that have totaled at least 40 steals. On the flip side, Florida turns the ball over 16.7 times a game.
Florida gets to a line a good amount of time, averaging 22 free throws a game and converting 16.7 (71 percent).
Dayton commits 17.6 turnovers a game while forcing only 16.4 mistakes.
Dayton controlling the boards
While 6-2 forward Lily Svete is the Gators tallest player, Dayton has five players at lest 6-3. The Flyers use their height advantage to control the boards, generally speaking.
Throughout the season, Dayton has out-rebounded their opponents by an average of 4.9 boards a game and average over 13 offensive caroms a contest.
Florida, on the other hand, is not a very good rebounding team and have gotten beaten on the boards by an average margin of 4.3. Lewis is the top rebounder with 8.3 a game while freshman Ronni Williams (5.5 rpg) is the only other Gator with more than five rebound s a game.
Coaches: Jim Jabir (Dayton), Amanda Butler (Florida)
Jabir is 210-132 in 11 seasons with Dayton. The Flyers have won at least 20 games the past seven seasons.
Butler has led the Gators to the postseason in each of her seven seasons at Florida. She ha amassed 139 victories and is 2-2 in the NCAA tournament.
Prediction: Florida 85, Dayton 83
Dayton holds the experience edge over Florida – the Gators have just two players with NCAA tournament experience- and is 3-0 against this year’s tournament teams. However, the Flyers are just 2-4 in the NCAA tournament and 0-3 against SEC teams.
Florida is 4-6 against teams in this year’s tournament and will need to stay out of foul trouble is they expect to e in the game. Gator players have fouled out 28 times with Williams leading the way with 16 disqualifications