Well that was entertainment. After blowing a thirteen point lead, and trailing by four with two and half minutes to go, UD rallied late in the game to hold onto an 82-77 victory over the Iowa Hawkeyes. The pace was frenetic, the play oftentimes sloop, but Dayton did just enough to eke out a win against their opponents from the B1G.
It seemed like every white guy in a black uniform nailed a three in the second-half and the Flyers were going to let one slip away. Juniors Scoochie Smith and Charles Cooke had other ideas. The duo combined for the team’s last eleven points of the game – Cooke hitting a huge three from the corner to cut the lead to one and Smith, wheelbarrow balls in hand, laying it high off the glass on a drive to the hoop with just thirteen seconds left. An airballed three from Peter Jok was Iowa’s last effort, as the Flyers took possession and added some breathing room with two foul shots from Cooke.
The upperclassmen were the story of the night, as Smith, Pollard, Cooke and Kyle Davis were responsible for 65 of UD’s 82 points. The foursome was particularly influential in the second half, as Chief McElvene (4 points) and X Williams (2 points) were the only underclassmen to score in the second frame. The X-Man, unexpectedly, was productive, ending the contest with seven points and five rebounds – although his ill-timed shot down the stretch almost caused me to put my fist through my coffee table
It was refreshing to see Pollard get involved early and often tonight, as the junior from Chicago has gotten off to a rather slow start this season. KP finished with 16 points and 5 rebounds and, God bless him, did all he could to guard Jarrod Uthoff to start the game.
Charles Cooke might be the best free agent Archie will sign while he remains at Dayton. The James Madison transfer once again provided UD with a spark from the perimeter tonight, connecting on 4-of-6 from behind the arc. The Flyers, not coincidentally, damn near shut down offensively when he picked up two very soft fouls midway through the second half and sat until the final TV timeout. Cooke has more than made up for Dyshawn Pierre’s absence.
Turnovers were once again a malady for UD, as the Flyers turned the ball over a very charitable sixteen times tonight. Scoochie was the primary offender against Iowa, as some of his questionable decision-making led to seven turnovers for the good guys. You’d expect a team that plays at Dayton’s pace to turn the ball over a bit, but I’m sure it’s an issue Archie has been harping on since the exhibition against Saginaw Valley State.
The big news, aside from the gleeful scalping of Iowa, is the Monmouth Owls besting Notre Dame in the game before Dayton tipped this evening. As a result, UD will take on the team from Jersey, not the squad from South Bend tomorrow night. On paper, it’s a rather easy trot to the championship game – where, yes, Gem City could matchup with Our Overlords to the south. Xavier received a bit of a respite as well, as Southern Cal took down Wichita State earlier in the day. The odds dictate a Xavier/Dayton championship tilt, just as the God’s foretold.
The Flyers are 4-0. It’s very red and LOWD in Orlando. It was easier to write about his team when they were mediocre, but that’s a “me problem.” Godspeed.