Internet weirdo Kyle Whelliston used to always say, for programs not named Kentucky, Duke or Gonzaga (you’ll see), it always ends with a loss. Which is true. I don’t suspect I will ever see Dayton make the Final Four, and I certainly don’t anticipate that we will witness a Flyer coach taking down the final link in a championship net while One Shining Moment plays in the background. That’s okay, it’s in the fan contract we signed once we all became an eternal part of the Sweater Nation.
So, like a wheelchair-bound shut-in, we get enjoyment out of the little things: Bobby Wehrli knocking down three threes against Saint Bonaventure, Dyshawn Pierre racking up double-doubles, Kendall Pollard’s monstrous dunk on Yuta Watanabe, Kyle Davis coming up with five steals against Providence and Jordan Sibert’s humongous three against Boise in the Sweater Centre. These are all memories that made this year more fun than it had a right to.
After a frustrating beginning which saw Oklahoma jump out into the lead, by hitting three consecutive three-pointers, taking a 9-0 lead before the Flyers had even broken a sweat. UD, as they have done all season, regrouped and began to chip away at the lead. Dayton countered with a fifteen point run that put the Flyers into a 32-29 lead with 2:22 remaining in the first half. The Sooners scored the final five points of the half, allowing Oklahoma to to claim the lead into the break. For Flyer fans, it was an absolute relief to be down just two points with twenty minutes yet to play.
The two teams traded blows for the first four minutes of the second half until Scoochie Smith converted an and-on layup to even it all up at forty apiece. From that point on, the Flyers took command — consecutive threes from DURRELL and a trey from Dyshawn Pierre went unanswered, Dayton took a nine-point lead and it seemed like Archie Miller’s team was on the verge of taking down the Sooners.
UD and Oklahoma went back and forth, exchanging baskets until the nine minute mark. Archie took Scoochie out with the Flyers up 56-51. The Sooners responded with a 6-0 run and UD was down by the time the Flyers’ starting point-guard checked back in. Dayton couldn’t buy a bucket and it seemed like the refs were only seeing one side of the floor, as Oklahoma went to the stripe on three consecutive trips down the court — increasing the margin to six in favor of Lon Kruger’s club.
A Scoochie Smith layup cut the lead to four and UD had life. DURRELL picked off a pass at halfcourt and it seemed like Dayton would cut the edge to just two points, but Buddy Hield blocked Davis’ attempt and an Oklahoma foul-shot by Jordan Woodard pushed the Sooner lead back to five. Hield’s block had the effect of shutting the door on Dayton, as the Flyers would never be within reasonable striking distance from that point forward. (To be fair, Kendall Pollard had a chance to cut it two three with fifty seconds left, but the sophomore forward airballed the front end of a one-and-one. However, Davis getting stuffed on a breakaway attempt at the bucket seemed to suck the life out of the Flyer Faithful.)
When the clock hit triple zeroes, it was Oklahoma advancing to the Sweet Sixteen. A 72-66 Sooner victory ending what was a season of extreme fluctuations for the Gem City Cagers. The 2014-15 Flyers’ tombstone reads as follows: 27 wins, A10 runners-up and two reverberating victories in the NCAA Tournament.
We made noise, we were LOWD. It ended with a loss, but not without an exhilarating swan song.
And now, a lone man, crying, while playing the recorder.
— whiskers (@chewbaucco) March 23, 2015