Why are there so many UConn fans here, omg. You guys had your own pod, stop stalking Samarie Walker already.
Dayton's band is hogging all the airtime. Come on, guys. Let our guys go.
Amber Thompson is probably going to kill her mother for the head-on-a-stick. Our Newark contingent has gone all out (they probably planned for that Trenton regional) with signs and ticket sales.
Okay, I'm enjoying Dayton's band, but I think I'd like them more if they weren't stepping on our time. I think our band is starting to get annoyed at them.
At halftime it's 43-30 Dayton, and if Joe Tartamella is not ripping his team several new ones based on their inability and/or unwillingness to guard the three-point line, I want his job because he's not doing it. Andrea Hoover has 16 for the Flyers. Shenneika Smith has 10. Dayton has done an excellent job of finding the open man when the double comes.
I'm not disappointed in the team, merely that I don't get to see them again. I'm not angry. I'm not ashamed. I'm sad, but that's it. You can't ask for more than everything, and they left everything on the floor. When I thought they didn't have enough left in the tank, they gutted it out of them somehow, and they never stopped fighting.
I do not know where Assertive, Aggressive Ashley Perez has been all season, but I would absolutely adore it if she stuck around for the next three years instead of Slightly Scared Mouse Ashley Perez. She hustled hard on defense, to somewhat more effect than usual- and then the shots started falling. Turns out the problem was that she was taking them too close to the line; once she took a couple of steps back and started hitting them from Nassau County, she was into her groove. She also was more willing to drive, though her shot selection was a little shakier there. She carried us through the second half and the first overtime, but in the latter part of the overtime, she started to falter. It's been a while since she's had to go that hard that long. She started heaving up panic shots that fell short. Still. Good to have her. Keylantra Langley was a step slow on defense and kept leaving her man open. Not good when one of your primary duties is to play defense. Would have liked to see her be a little more assertive on offense. Mary Nwachukwu played sparingly, just to give Amber Thompson some relief from foul trouble, and was not particularly effective. I'd yell at her that she needs to rebound the ball, but that was the last game of her senior year, so she doesn't have to rebound anything anymore.
Briana Brown kept getting out of position on defense. This was not a good match-up for her, and I think it affected her offensive confidence as well as her defensive confidence. She went to the floor for loose balls as always, though. She's tough. She'll rebound. Aliyyah Handford had some issues with her handle, but when she went hard to the paint, no one was stopping her. If that tip-in had gone in at the end of the first overtime... but it didn't. She played hard. She tried to keep us in it during the second overtime. Amber Thompson had a lackluster first half and then exploded in the second half and overtime. Suddenly the easy shots she'd missed were going in. Suddenly she was pulling down rebounds with authority. She took over in the second half. That's the Amber I know and appreciate and look forward to two years of.
The seniors get their own paragraph, because they were awesome and I'm not going to be able to write about them again, and that makes me incredibly sad. Shenneika Smith put on a show to open the game, countering on seemingly every Dayton run. She was slashing, she was taking jumpers, she was being the star that we knew she could be. Her hands were up and active and moving. And then Nadirah McKenith pretty much took the team on her shoulders. Scoring, rebounding, dishing, stealing, hustling, defense... Nadirah did everything and anything she could to pull St. John's through. When she fouled out on the charge (which was a call I couldn't argue with, though many around me did), she was inconsolable, head buried in her jersey, shoulders shaking, needing to be pulled out of her chair to join the huddle at the next timeout. My heart broke for her. She's been such a rock for us... it hurts when she's hurting. We chanted her name when she went out of the game, and I know it wasn't enough, but maybe she'll n the huddle at the next timeout
Okay, I guess I should talk about Dayton, because they played just as hard and were even better than we were. But it's hard, because they're not my team and I don't know them as well because I didn't have a roster, and I'm still entirely too proud of my team to talk about the team that beat them. But seriously, Dayton and their fans and their band were fantastic, and I look forward to their eventual inclusion in the Big East.
Olivia Applewhite killed us on the boards, and that bucket in the second overtime was a backbreaker. I was very impressed with her, although she's got to be more careful about staying on the bench when she's not in the game. I like her toughness. Kelley Austria was a steady consistent offensive force for the Flyers off the bench, getting the job done on backdoor cuts and drives down the lane. She owned the show in the second overtime. Brittany Wilson was a tank- I still don't know why she set that screen on Nadirah away from the play, but whatever. I wouldn't have expected her to swish that three, though.
We could not get a body on Andrea Hoover for the entire first half. She just kept slipping loose and getting open on the right side. It was exceedingly frustrating. She was less of a factor later in the game, but by then Samantha MacKay was stepping it up. Amber Deane looked like a player with a lot of potential, but I'm not sure if she felt like she was ever in the game. She was steady, but she didn't leave much of an impression. I think the scouting report keyed heavily on Ally Malott, because she didn't get a lot of opportunities. Cassie Sant didn't hit a lot of shots, but the ones she hit were well timed.
It's hard to get a handle on Dayton because of the lack of names on either jerseys or roster. (I need to whip up a scorecard one of these days, for games when a program is $10 and I have no idea who half of these people are.) In general, their passing was sharp and crisp and they were great at finding lanes. Just a very solid team that's run well.
Officiating was interesting. Not necessarily in a good way. To be fair, I thought Dayton got the short end of the stick in regulation (except for getting the timeout granted the second time they tied it up), but I was really not happy with the charge that fouled Nadirah out of the game. Neither was the crowd. But ultimately, the refs didn't decide the game.
The crowd atmosphere was amazing. I wish I could have bottled it and saved it for next year, because it was the kind of cheering we so rarely get at Carnesecca for a women's game. Stomping, cheering, chanting, screaming... can we carry it through without Shenneika and Nadirah?
The Dayton band has a ridiculous number of hats. At least four. We tried to trade with them, but they didn't have any extras. :( I think my favorite was the one with the giant airplane on top. They use the same cheer cadence as Villanova, which is very confusing.
The second half, I thought we were done. Dayton was up 13 at the half, and for most of the half, we'd score a basket, then let Dayton take it right back, then cut it to 6 or 7, then Dayton would pull it back out to 13, wash, rinse, repeat. The last couple of minutes happened in what seemed like a blink.
I'm so incredibly proud of my team and the year they pulled out. It would have been easy to strike the tents after Gina tore her ACL, but we surged back in Big East play. Our young players have gotten valuable experience, and we'll be back.