What happens after you take down a ranked opponent on the road? You come out flatter than a British man’s ass the next time out (I have no data to back up this assertion, but who’s to argue?). If the Blackburn Review had a motto, it would be “we watch this shit so you don’t have to.” Never was the spirit of that message more evident tonight.
Coming off a big win, on the road, against a ranked opponent? Check. Playing a mid-December game against an underwhelming opponent assuring a milquetoast crowd? Check. Said team playing without its best player? Check. That, my friends, is the formula for a Brian Gregory special – a BG special is defined as “a loss to a team during your ‘get healthy’ portion of the non-conference schedule that will absolutely come back to bite you in March.”
An absolutely brutal first half saw the Flyers shoot 1-of-6 from three, connect on 50% of their foul shots and were outrebounded by Chattanooga 20-12. Somehow, Dayton was down just 29-24 going into the half. The only thing keeping UD fans from sprinting towards the parking lot was the promise of Frisbee Dogs at the half (crowd favorite Chauncey battled through swollen gums and proceeded to catch 9-of-11 flying discs – seven in a row).
Second half was more of the same as UD continued to falter offensively. The Flyers did manage to quickly take the lead back early in the latter half, Dayton was ahead 37-31 at the first TV timeout. However, Gem City never landed a knockout punch and the game was tied at 46 with eight and a half minutes to go.
The two teams battled back and forth until the bitter end, a Kendall Pollard foul-shot tied the game at 59. Chattanooga ran the clock down, the Mocs’ Greg Pryor drew a foul and converted both freebies to give the visitors a two-point margin. UD inbounded to Scoochie Smith, who drove the length of the court but had his layup deflected out of bounds. The clock hit triple-zeroes before the ball hit the floor and Chattanooga had a 61-59 upset to take back home.
Kendall Pollard’s struggles at the foul-line, he shot 8-of-16 from the stripe, will certainly garner much of the blame for tonight’s loss (Pollard’s twenty points more than cancel out his lack of prowess from the charity stripe, in my humble opinion). However, a much more telling indicator could be found on the boards. Chattanooga, undermanned and undersized, outrebounded the Flyers 30-27. That’s as telling a stat as any.
Neither team shot the ball very well, although Chattanooga’s 47% from three was certainly an anomaly that cannot be discounted, it was simply a matter of who was going to make a play with the game on the line. UD let the Mocs hang around too long and Chattanooga made them pay.
Once again, Dayton has shot itself in the foot at the most importune time. With the Vanderbilt win in their back pocket, the Flyers were likely playing for a national ranking and a feeling of security heading into the conference schedule. Instead, UD will recede into mid-major darkness, with plenty to play for but an opportunity squandered.
Going forward we should have more clarity as to what Archie has in store for Dyshawn Pierre. There were reports this week that Miller was considering a redshirt for Pierre, perhaps thinking that UD was well on its way to a tournament berth and is concerned about the senior’s playing shape and state of mind. With tonight’s performance in the rearview, you’d have to believe Archie realizes he could have used another scoring threat. Of course, forty minutes of play should not weigh too heavily on Miller’s mind, but it certainly may throw a curveball in his thinking if he wasn’t leaning strongly in one direction.
Either way, the Flyers have to get back on track. The Xavier loss is nothing to be embarrassed about and plenty of teams will trip up like UD did against Chattanooga tonight. Dayton simply needs to close out with wins over their next three games and head into Atlantic Ten play with some momentum. Stay LOWD.
Tom Blackburn is a proud U. o' D. alum. He loses faith in humanity one day at a time, but not in you, you seem like you are all kinds of alright. Charter member of the T-Man fanclub.