Usually when you think of up-tempo basketball, you think of creating offense from your defense, causing steals for easy baskets and quick transition points off of rebounds.
Dayton takes it one step further, racing up the court even after their opponents' made baskets. Although it's taken some time to come together, they've improved dramatically over the course of the season and the formula simply overwhelmed Harvard in the Flyers' 101 to 80 victory on Thursday evening.
"Harvard's a good team (and) I felt like we made them do things that they didn't want to do," said Dayton Coach Jim Jabir. "Defensively we took them out of their sets but offensively, I felt we got shots we wanted, I thought we made shots and we were efficient, I was pleased with the effort."
It was obvious early on that there was a different dynamic with Dayton and it wasn't just their new starting lineup that has gone 3-0 in their last 3 games. It was the aggressive and assertive play of junior point guard Patrice Lalor.
"Well I think the biggest thing is I know I can score," said Patrice Lalor. "So in the past years, I just never looked for it, I was like, I'm just going to set my teammates up, pass the ball. But this year, I really wanted to focus on being aggressive and help my team out and when I do that, we are a much better team."
The first six minutes of the game were indicative of the illuming presence and influence that Lalor would have for the rest of the evening. Out of the first 21 points that were scored by Dayton, Lalor was responsible for 11 of them, either with precise passing to a teammate cutting down the lane or a kick out pass to another for three, or the old fashioned way of her just taking the onus upon herself to score.
"We've really been practicing pace because that's our system, pushing the ball down their throat, not giving a team a chance to get their defense setup," said Lalor.
And while Harvard's continued fight and battling is to be respected as they were picked to be second in the Ivy League, you could see that they could not combat the tempo that Dayton and Lalor had set for the game.
It seemed that every time Harvard would score a basket, within two seconds, Lalor would get the ball off the inbounds pass and either Dayton would be getting a layup or a wide open three pointer. Not only was she the driving force but the catalyst as she continued to push the pace to a point where it seemingly brought about fatigue to Harvard.
"I've spent the first couple of years begging and now I just tell her that I'm going to kick her ass," said Jabir jokingly. "We are a different team when she's being aggressive, we need for her to continue to be that for us because I think we get easier shots, we get better shots, we get into our offense easily, more smoothly. She's that good; I think she can be one of the best guards in the A-10 when she's being assertive."
And with Lalor setting the tone and dictating to Harvard how the game would be played, her teammates followed suit as they continued the onslaught of pressure even when she was out of the game. Because of that influence from Lalor, Dayton was able to score over 100 points for only the third time this season.
And even though Harvard showed plenty of resolve, they were no match for the "Little Engine that could" and that engine was Patrice Lalor.
MVP of the Night:
Patrice Lalor: when a player can influence the game by their mere presence on the court without having to put up gaudy stats, that's a player that's truly leading her team. And that's what you want out of a point guard: leadership and play making ability.
Surprise Performer of the Night:
True freshman, Cassie Sant of Dayton who scored a career-high 14 points and showed a lot of versatility at 6'2".
Key Stats of the night:
1. Dayton outscored Harvard in the paint, 48-30.
2. Dayton scored 31 points off of turnovers to Harvard's 16.
Top Performers for Dayton:
1. Patrice Lalor, 8 points, 7 assists
2. Kristin Daugherty, 17 points in only 20 minutes
3. Cassie Sant, 14 points in only 18 minutes
4. Kari Daugherty, 13 points, 5 rebounds, 4 assists
Top Performers for Harvard:
1. Victoria Lippert, 22 points
2. Emma Markley, 19 points, 2 blocks
3. Brogan Berry, 15 points, 4 assists