The Dayton Flyers would have been well served to heed the game plan of the Navy. The Midshipmen kept A'Dia Mathies away from the ball, or the ball away from her, one or the other. Dayton seemed to forget that lesson tonight, and A'Dia proceeded to hang 34 points on the Flyers as Kentucky took Dayton out 84-70.
Kentucky did exactly what they needed to do out of the gates as they jumped out on Dayton and at one point took a 14 point lead. Considering DeNesha Stallworth was on the bench for the last ten minutes of the first half, it was an impressive effort. Mathies led the way as she hit 3's as well as shots inside the arc. She was getting tip-ins, off ball screens to get open looks, and using her teammates as picks everywhere. Dayton shot 52% from the floor, but only took 21 shots as they turned the ball over 14 times. Dayton also had no bench points, and Kentucky used their defensive press to precision for most of the half. They held Dayton to 1-4 from the 3pt line, and allowed the Flyers no second chance points. When the teams headed to the locker room, Mathies had 15 points, and Kentucky was up by 9, 40-31.
When the second half started, Dayton started hitting. Their biggest advantage though came from the FT line as Kentucky committed way too many fouls. At one point, Kentucky allowed UD to take FT shots on three consecutive possessions and they hit 5 of 6 to cut the lead down to 2. Then Mathies decided she had seen enough. Soon, her 15 points became 20, then 25, and by the time she had hit 30, the Kentucky lead was back to 14 and Dayton was gassed.
When all was said and done, Mathies had a total of 34 points, hit 6-7 from behind the arc, and was 13-17 from the floor. Kentucky forced Dayton into a total of 23 turnovers, scored 31 point off of those turnovers, and added 34 boards for good measure.
The game was not without lapses, however, and that allowed Dayton to remain in the game for much longer than they should have. Kentucky will have to work on those before they face the Delaware Blue Hens and their Player of The Year candidate Elena Della Donne. She also had 33 points tonight as Delaware took North Carolina out of the tournament to join Kentucky in the Sweet Sixteen.
At times the game became really choppy, and far too many fouls were committed by both sides, but Kentucky was able to overcome a lot of the mistakes by hitting the defensive backboards. Kentucky only allowed 9 second chance points for the game, and they kept Dayton out of the paint for a large portion of the night.
Game Ball: A'Dia Mathies, of course. She did exactly what UK needed, and she did it every time they needed her to do it. Another Sweet Sixteen for Kentucky and Coach Matthew Mitchell. Congrats to them on superb effort, and also to the Dayton Lady Flyers for a game well played.
Kentucky faces Delaware on Saturday, March 30. the time is not yet announced.