No. 9 GW thumps Dayton in A-10 quarterfinals

CINCINNATI -- Guard Brittany Holterman had a discolored scrape under her left eye when she walked out of Dayton's locker room and headed for the bus. Concerned coach Jim Jabir asked what had happened.

"Got punched in the eye," Holterman said in a matter-of-fact tone.

All game long, the Flyers got worked over by the Atlantic 10's most imposing team.

Jessica Adair set the tone with her inside scoring and emphatic shot blocking Saturday, and George Washington (No. 9 ESPN/USA Today; No. 8 AP) extended its winning streak to 19 games with a 61-45 victory in the Atlantic 10 tournament quarterfinals.

The Colonials (26-2) took a while to get rolling against a team it has beaten every time they've played. George Washington improved to 22-0 all-time against Dayton (12-19), which had neither the size nor the depth to keep up.

"We came out a little flat, then picked our game up," said guard Kimberly Beck, the conference's defensive player of the year.

Adair raised everyone's game.

The 6-foot-4 center asserted herself during a 13-point run late in the first half that put the Colonials in charge. She scored eight consecutive points -- four of them on free throws -- and had one of her five blocks. Adair finished with 14 points.

Adair got more room to maneuver after her twin sister, Jazmine, got into the game.

"Having another inside presence is always a plus for us," Adair said. "It opens things up for me a lot."

Jennifer Strong, who leads Dayton with 13 points per game, picked up three first-half fouls and failed to score, going 0-for-4. Holterman led the Flyers with 10 points.

The Colonials went 14-0 in the A10, only the fifth perfect season in conference history. With the conference's most balanced offense and its stingiest defense, George Washington is trying to add a tournament title to its sixth straight regular-season championship.

The Colonials' semifinal opponent will be No. 5 seed Saint Joseph's, which beat Charlotte 76-64 later Saturday. George Washington reached its season high in points while beating the Hawks 87-60 on Feb. 23.

Joe McKeown, the conference's coach of the year, hobbled onto the court before the game using a metal crutch under his left arm and a brace on his right leg. McKeown, 50, tore his right patella tendon during practice on Dec. 14 and is still recovering.

The three-person officiating crew pointed to the leg and joked with him before the game. It wasn't long before he was screaming at the referees in a first half that was unexpectedly close.

About 200 people were in the 10,100-set arena -- not counting the bands and cheerleaders -- for pregame introductions on Xavier's home court. It didn't take long for the mood to heat up.

Players repeatedly dived for loose balls and set jarring picks, refusing to back down in a back-and-forth half. There were two ties and 11 lead changes -- a dramatic improvement for Dayton, which never led during its 70-57 home-court loss to the Colonials on Jan. 26.

"I talked about them bullying us in the locker room before the game," Jabir said. "They're so big and strong and if they feel they can impose their will on you, they will. They did. We were intimidated."

After watching his team give up some easy baskets, McKeown called a 30-second timeout midway through the first half and demanded more intensity. He got his wish.

"Basically the message was: Let's take the game to them," he said.

Adair finally gave George Washington a toehold, scoring eight points during the 13-point run that made it 31-19. She made the best play during the run, grabbing a rebound and immediately going up to make a 6-foot jumper.

Adair also blocked a shot during the run, which saw the conference's top defense at its best. Dayton missed 11 consecutive shots during the nearly 8-minute span.

Adair's inside dominance helped the Atlantic 10's top 3-point shooting team overcome a cold afternoon from behind the arc. George Washington went only 2-for-11 on 3-point attempts in the first half.

The Colonials' defense snuffed out Dayton's hopes of a comeback at the start of the second half, holding the Flyers without a basket for the first 5 minutes. Dayton went 0-for-6 from the field with five turnovers while George Washington pushed the lead to 41-21.

Dayton shot only 30 percent from the field and had 24 turnovers.