The Flyers only had one true road test on their non-conference slate this season and it was a big one. Vanderbilt was gracious enough to invite Dayton into their oddly-shaped home and UD proceeded to get drunk at dinner, hit on the Commodore’s fourteen year-old daughter and clog the toilet before Vandy asked them graciously to leave (the Flyers keyed VU’s car on the way out too, kind of a dick move if you ask me). One thing is for sure, Dayton won’t be asked back anytime soon.
After trailing by as much as sixteen late in the first half, 38-22, your Flyers booted, rallied and outscored the Commodores 50-29 from that point forward (someone check my math). The Flyers kept their heads on straight, battled back and cut the lead to just eight at the half. A 13-2 run out of the break put UD in the lead (for good as it turned out) and it was game on for the Flyers.
After beating back a few VU punches, UD found itself up by four with just two minutes left – a “what in the fuck” putback by Sam Miller giving UD the edge. An inconceivable heave from beyond the arc by Kendall Pollard put Dayton up 69-62 with 43 seconds left. Some idiots called it a “dagger” (ahem) but others knew the mission was far from over – apparently the Flyers aren’t known for closing teams out from the foul-line. Vanderbilt got an uncontested layup, Scoochie Smith missed two free-throws and then the Commodores’ Matthew Fisher-Davis nailed a three. All of a sudden UD was up a bucket and only seventeen seconds had expired since Pollard hit his apparent game-winning trey.
Humanely, the Flyers got a stop and two Kyle Davis freebies did Vandy in for good. Dayton walked away with a confidence-inspiring victory over their hosts from the SEC, pushing their season record to 7-1 and giving their tournament profile a nice boost.
The Flyers, to put it frankly, just outworked the Commodores for the win. UD outrebounded VU by ten and held Vanderbilt to just one second-chance basket all game, a fact that should keep Kevin Stallings up at night. Vandy may have had the size, but Dayton, led by Kendall Pollard, had the might. KP continually attacked Vanderbilt’s defense, getting easy baskets around the rim while drawing contact. The junior forward led all scorers with 21 points, shooting 7-of-10 from the floor.
Scoochie Smith has had better offensive nights, he converted only five of his sixteen attempts from the field, but he protected the ball and jump-started UD’s transition repeatedly. The Chief, as expected, got into foul-trouble and was limited to just nineteen minutes of play. He played well offensively, dropping a 10 and 9 against Vandy’s huge frontcourt. Defensively? Let’s be diplomatic and say Steve is a work in progress.
The one lingering question from last night’s game is Sam Miller’s twenty minutes of playing time, but a win has a tendency to quash all doubt.
The Flyers scored forty of their seven-two points from inside the paint (56% of their offensive output. Again, check my math). That’s a shocking number for a team with UD’s makeup against a squad with Vandy’s size. UD shot just 33% from three, a pregame indicator that would have directed to a sure loss. Instead, Archie Miller’s group just out-manned the ‘Dores, they had more…CHEST than their opponents from Nashville.
Dayton went 59% from the charity stripe and hit 33% of their shots from behind the arc and still managed to beat a ranked team on the road (although Vanderbilt didn’t hold up their end of the bargain offensively either). Rebounding and grown-man basketball won the day.
The goal now is pretty simple, win the last four remaining non-conference games (which would result in an 11-1 record) and head into conference play with a national ranking. Chattanooga, Furman, Miami and Arkansas all visit the Sweater Center, four completely winnable contests. The future is red and it is LOWD, so goddamn LOWD.