It’s rare that we can enjoy a “classic” between the Flyers and Dukes in early February, but what else can you call it? (Besides a near disaster that would have put an immense amount of pressure to win at Rhode Island on Friday night) Some questionable referring, and hot shooting from Micah Mason, put Duquesne in an extremely comfortable spot with around six minutes to go.
Dayton, having cut the Dukes lead to one with eight minutes left, watched as Mason and Derrick Colter scored the games next eleven points. Mason’s three with Kyle Davis in his face, and the shot clock ticking down, felt like the dagger, as Dayton seemed to be running on fumes.
It felt like one of those nights where nothing would go right for the home team and the heavy underdogs would walk away with a much-deserved victory. Instead, the Flyers rallied. Three consecutive layups, two from Charles Cooke and one from Scoochie Smith, cut the Duquesne lead to six with just over four minutes remaining. The crowd got LOWD, Jim Ferry cowed and UD plowed.
Ferry sat on his hands, refusing to call a timeout or take off his suit jacket. Yet another shitty offensive possession for the Dukes resulted in a fast break opportunity for Dayton – which was converted by Kyle Davis cutting the once sizable lead to four (I harped on it on Twitter, but it bears repeating, I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a Flyer as good in transition as Kyle Davis. It seems every time he gets the ball on the break he is able to finagle his way to an open look and a scored bucket. It’s the type of thing only a guy with a “fuck it” attitude can pull off, and KD has that in spades).
The Dukes finally called a timeout with 3:20 left in the contest but it was already too late. The visitors were caught in a cocoon of LOWD and there was simply no escaping it. Bucky Bockhorn stated that it was the second time he can remember the Arena being so loud it hit the “brown noise” level (apparently the Sweater Centre hit that height before in a game against Notre Dame in the early 80s).
Derrick Colter drew a foul against Scoochie Smith in what was the coup de grâce of questionable call from the refs. Colter converted one of two from the stripe, followed by a classic three-point play by Kyle Davis, closing the margin to just two. Duquesne fucked around with the ball too long once again on their next possession and Colter was forced to jack up a 35-footer that barely drew iron. Kyle Davis caught the ball on the break near the elbow and used a euro-step to get open for an easy layup. Game tied at 70.
By this point, Duquesne was like a beaten man begging for mercy. But there would be no compassion, no clemency, not tonight. The Dukes could have fallen on their swords and saved some of their dignity but instead settled for another desperation heave with the shot-clock expiring. Colter’s long-range effort clanged off the backboard (bankboard) and the Flyers had the ball with under a minute to go.
I spent much of the George Mason recap focusing on Scoochie Smith’s digression since conference play began. The Flyer point-guard was the team’s go-to guy in November and December, showcasing an improved shooting stroke that added yet another weapon to his arsenal. Since A10 play, however, it seemed like Smith was struggling to find his rhythm and pick his spots. But tonight, Scoochie reached into his shorts once again, found his big black balls and took them out for a spin. Scooch caught the ball near the top of the circle and confidentially drained a three-pointer.
The Flyers reclaimed the left and crushed what was left of Duquesne spirit. It was in a word, emasculating. Dayton had more CHEST tonight and the biggest, hairiest balls this side of Greece. Both teams went through the end of game foul shooting protocol and the Flyers survived, earning their twentieth win of the season, 76-74.
Charles Cooke kept Dayton without shouting distance in the second half, getting baskets from outside, inside and everywhere in between. Cooke scored 22 points, grabbed 8 rebounds and even blocked 3 shots for the fuck of it. Nevertheless, it was the play of Kyle Davis that seemed to be the driving force of UD’s comeback. KD got buckets when the Flyers were on the brink of defeat, driving to the basket at will down the stretch. Although Scoochie Smith’s three-pointer will be the play everyone remembers when they are reminiscing with their adopted Asian son on their deathbeds, it was Davis’ fearlessness that propelled Dayton to victory (that was an aviation reference in case you missed it).
The comeback means the Flyers avoided a dreaded “bad loss” and remain in the hearts and minds of America. UD improves to 20-3 (10-1) and now heads out for a tough road contest against Rhode Island on Friday night. No more listening to the radio or looking for something called the American Sports Network, the Flyers head to basic cable against the Rams. We couldn’t get any LOWDER.