This felt like a quarterfinal or, possibly, semifinal preview. If this ends up being the 4v5 matchup in the first round at Coos Bay, it wouldn’t be shocking in the least. Dayton looked like a slightly more physically mature version of themselves from last year, simply missing the all-around scorer that was Tyler Spink. The defense was there, the rebounding was there, the high IQ play was generally there. There really isn’t a terribly large amount to explain: Dayton looks like, simply, Dayton.
De La Salle, conversely, has a new face. Whether intentional or not, the Knights played a slower pace than the Pirates for a majority of the ballgame, and only threw on a press sparingly. Even when there was an urgent need to put up points late in the second half, the Knights played almost, as incredible as it sounds considering their reputation, slowly and methodically. The explosiveness of teams past didn’t seem to be there, the flash of teams past certainly didn’t show, but nonetheless the Knights continuously worked their way back into being in a competitive position. This version of De La Salle, with the defensive intensity still persisting from the past but bodies comprising the roster being drastically different, may end up being more easily put away when down by medium to large margins, but may be harder to get into medium to large deficits to begin with. An interesting evolution that might only have existed because of tonight's opponent, but still something that is noteworthy.
Two well coached teams, two experienced rosters. Would have taken an act of God for this to be a blowout in either direction.
Leading scorers: Boston Hodges (Dayton) 15, Trae Wall (Dayton) 14, Elliot Ball-Dowling (DLS) 13, Quincy Aranda (DLS) 13