ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) Dayton has already upset one team from Kentucky in the NCAA Tournament and the Flyers don’t see why a game with Louisville should be any different.
”Playing UK on their home court really prepared us,” said senior guard Andrea Hoover. ”That was a tough environment for us and playing here on a neutral court against Louisville, we’re more than prepared.”
The aptly named Flyers (27-6), a seventh seed, take on fourth-seeded Louisville (27-6) Saturday afternoon. The winner gets either UConn or Texas.
Dayton, which hit 11 3-pointers in the 99-94 second-round win over Kentucky, averages 76.5 points a game. The Flyers take 16.5 shots from the 3-point line and make about 38 percent of those. They are 110-10 over their last 120 games when scoring more than 70 points and 23-1 this season.
Louisville coach Jeff Walz says Dayton reminds him of the 3-point happy Villanova teams from the old Big East, only faster and more athletic.
He said that means his team, which only gives up 57.7 points per game, is going to have to play great perimeter defense before worrying about a happening in the paint.
”If you allow them to get their feet set and shoot the ball from behind the 3-point line, it’s normally not going to be a good day for you, because they do shoot it extremely well.” he said.
Dayton coach Jim Jabir said he is expecting a pressing, physical game from Louisville, which stole the ball 24 times in its first-round win over BYU and eight more in beating South Florida to advance to Albany.
”We are not going to back down from anybody,” Jabir said. ”If we get punched in the face. Well, look at my nose, I’ve been punched in the face a couple of times. We’re going to get back up and we’re going to keep fighting you.”
Louisville (27-6) has won 20 games for the fifth straight season in what was supposed to be a rebuilding year. The program is making its sixth Sweet 16 appearance and it’s fourth in the last five seasons, despite losing four seniors and most of its scoring from last year’s team.
But that doesn’t mean the Cardinals are inexperienced. They have five seniors this year who are playing in their third straight regional semifinals. And freshmen forwards Mariya Moore (13.5 points per game) and Myisha Hines-Allen (11.8) have stepped into the offensive void to lead the team in scoring.
Dayton has been to six straight NCAA Tournaments, but this is the programs first appearance in the Sweet 16.
Some other interesting things to note as Dayton takes on Louisville Saturday:
UPSTATE KENTUCKY? Louisville’s men were playing in Syracuse Friday night a few hours after the women finished practicing about 145 miles away in Albany. Coach Jeff Walz said his team planned to gather as a team to watch the men’s game on television.
”It’s fun, because you’ve got players who know each other and they’ll critique each other as the game’s going on,” Walz said. The coach said several busses of fans planned to make the 2 1/2 hour trip from Syracuse to Albany on Saturday to catch the women’s game.
”We’ve both gone back to the Sweet 16 the last two years,” Jude Schimmel said. ”I think that says a lot about the university in general.”
HOME SWEET HOME: The game is a homecoming of sorts for Dayton coach Jim Jabir. He began his coaching career at Buffalo State before moving to Albany in 1987, where he guided the Saints to three consecutive winning seasons before moving on to Marquette.
HARD TO UPSET: Louisville has traditionally won the games it is supposed to in the tournament, going 13-2 as the higher seed.
DYER CIRCUMSTANCES: Shawnta’ Dyer of Louisville will both be playing in the Sweet 16 Saturday and keeping a close eye on the Division II men’s National Championships. Her twin brother Shawn plays for Indiana (Pa.), which will take on Florida Southern. Shawnta said the two talk after every game and analyze each other’s play.
SENIOR SUCCESS: Both team’s seniors have had a lot of success during their careers. Louisville’s class has won 112 games and been to three consecutive Sweet 16s.
Dayton’s seniors have won 101 of their 125 games and have been to the tournament each year.