With news that Charles Cooke would miss tonight’s tilt with Davidson (what exactly does Dayton do in practice?) the Flyers were unfortunately going to be without their most potent offensive weapon. This is especially detrimental when facing an opponent that routinely scores in the eighties and gives up open looks on the defensive end like the Wildcats. Tonight’s game was a significant test for the UD because they finally had to account for what they would do for points with Cooke out of the lineup.
The answer? Shoot uncharacteristically well from three and absolutely dominate Davidson in the paint. The Flyers shot an inspiring 51% from the floor and connected on 46% from behind the arc. There aren’t too many teams that can take down the Flyers in the Sweater Centre when Dayton is shooting it like that.
Both teams were slow out of the gate, slow being an operative word considering the pace of the game, and Davidson went into the half with a 36-33 lead. Jack Gibbs went off for 18 in the first frame, the clear difference maker over the first twenty minutes of the game. Fortuitously for the Flyers, Scoochie Smith snapped out of his funk and posted thirteen points of his own to pace UD — and Ryan Mikesell put up a unforeseen eight points – to keep Dayton right on Davidson’s heels.
The two teams traded buckets for much of the first ten minutes of the second half before a 19-0 run by Dayton, spearheaded by two threes each by the Davis boys, put the Flyers up eighteen with 7:46 to play in the game. The Sweaters were gathering their colostomy bags, the student section grew hushed and the contest appeared to be very much in hand.
But, this is Dayton basketball. Nothing ever comes easy.
The Wildcats, to their credit, kept chucking away and started to connect. Gibbs reheated from the perimeter and Davidson had cut the lead to just four with fourteen seconds left (my heart goes out to the people holding Dayton -7 wagers). However, a pair of Scoochie Smith foul shots were the final buckets of the game and the Flyers went home winners, 80-74, over a Davidson team that may end up finishing in the middle of the A10 pack when all is said and done.
Make no mistake; Davidson is an embarrassingly inefficient defensive team. Part of that is by design and part of that is due to their personnel. Nevertheless, you have to knock down shots, and that’s exactly what the Flyers were able to do in the second half. UD went 8-of-12 from three over the final twenty minutes of the contest, hitting approximately 60% of their shots from the floor.
Of all the encouraging performances tonight, Dyshawn Pierre’s shined the brightest. The loft bed proponent scored sixteen points, grabbed ten boards, hit two threes and found open men driving to the bucket. It was a vintage DP outing.
Kyle Davis, KYLE DAVIS, knocked down three three-pointers tonight, and was instrumental in Dayton’s huge run midway through the second half. He certainly didn’t shutdown Jack Gibbs, but he made the Davidson guard work for just about every shot he got off.
Kyle’s cousin, DURRELL (they gotta be related somehow, right?), looked absolutely shell-shocked in the first half shooting the ball but knocked down a couple of deep shots late in the game, hopefully building some confidence going forward. Davis the younger was vital to last season’s success, his timely perimeter shooting the catalyst in many of Dayton’s victories less than a year ago. His season has been a bit of a nightmare up to this point, hitting only 37% of his shots, a mere 29% from behind the three-point line. DURRELL can only improve at this point; I really hope that’s true, let’s hope he becomes more consistent as the Flyers move on this season.
This was a big week for your Flyers, home games against two programs that figured to have a say in the Atlantic Ten rat race. As we constantly emphasize, Dayton has no choice but to protect the Decibel Dungeon. There are no guarantees on the road for this team, dominating at home is the surest way to assure their success. With two games away from the Arena next week, getting two wins this week is crucial.
George Washington comes to town on Friday night; a sock hop will follow so bring your best gal. The Colonials are, in my opinion, the most balanced team in the conference. Mike Lonergan’s team is undeniably capable of coming into the Gem City and knocking Archie and Co. off of their perch. Stay woke.