I feel like we all just survived a prison riot. Virginia Commonwealth came out and did exactly what they wanted to do: physically, mentally and emotionally battering your Flyers into submission. After a first-half that saw Dayton take and give punches, the Rams wore Archie’s boys out and came away with a 74-62 victory, their tenth win in a row.
The Rams turned the Flyers over 26 times — turning UD’s miscues into 30 points. Even with VCU’s pressure defense, the Flyers shot the ball well on the night — connecting on 43% of their attempts from the floor and from behind the arc. On an average night, that’s good enough for a victory. Against VCU, in their version of Thunderdome, even a phenomenal shooting effort may not be enough. Such was the case tonight, as the Rams used their depth to wear Dayton out.
The Flyers had a few runs in the second half, but never seriously challenged their hosts. UD cut the deficit to a mere point with 14 minutes left in the game, but the Rams went on a quick 10-2 run to push it back out to a nine point lead. Two Vee Sanford free-throws cut the margin to seven with nine minutes to play, but the game never got any closer and Shaka Smart’s club cruised to a win in their first A10 conference game in school history.
Kevin Dillard, who was pushed to the point of insanity by the VCU pressure, bounced back offensively, finishing the game with a team-high 17 points (including 3 three-pointers). KD struggled in the face of the Ram’s pressing defense, turning the ball over a season-high seven times. Vee Sanford wasn’t much better, finishing tonight’s game with six turnovers. Matt Derenbecker and Devon Scott were the only Flyers who didn’t turn the ball over.
On a positive note, UD didn’t flat out embarrass themselves. There were several times during the game where it appeared that the Rams would blow the game out but the Flyers were somewhat resilient, able to chip away and maintain a semblance of respectability. Although Dayton had a 37% turnover rate, which was to be expected, they were more than capable offensively — impressive given the hostile environment and brand of defense they were encountering. There’s no shame in losing at VCU, the Rams will likely finish 8-0 at home in conference play.
Dayton has a quick turnaround before facing the league’s other newcomer, Butler, at home this Saturday. A win against the Bulldogs is highly recommended.
Lastly, for the record, I fucking loved VCU’s announcers. They were a perfect complement to the sheer anarchy taking place on the floor. (And Anne Hathaway was so much better looking in the movie Havoc than anything else she’s done. Why?)