A day the Flyers would have wanted to erase from their memories became a day they will never forget because of one shot, a last-second 3-pointer by Jordan Sibert to beat IPFW 81-80.
Until that moment, it had been a day for the birds for Dayton — in both the literal and figurative sense. A bird landed on top of the backboard with 7:31 left in the game and the Flyers facing their biggest deficit, 64-57.
Devin Oliver was about to shoot two free throws, but all the players noticed the bird — it had the best seat in the house — and they laughed before the bird flew away. It soared over the court to the delight of the few fans who could still smile as their team struggled against the Mastodons.
For a moment, the bird appeared to be a lucky charm for the Flyers. They went on a 6-0 run to get back in the game, but the run stopped and IPFW surged ahead. Dayton needed Sibert’s heroics to win its season opener.
“It’s 1-0 at the end of the day anyway you look at it,” coach Archie Miller said. “You may not feel good about it, but that’s fine. If it’s 0-1, it’s a whole different discussion right now. Our kids should feel good about the way they finished. They should also have their antennas up that we need to get better in a big way. And that’s up to us. We’ve got to do a better job of coaching them and teaching them.”
Kavanaugh improves: Senior Matt Kavanaugh had a team-high 11 rebounds and seven points Saturday in his first regular-season game since the 2011-12 season. He started and played 26 minutes. He scored four points in both exhibition games.
“I obviously wasn’t very happy with the way I played in the exhibition games,” Kavanaugh said. “The coaches have a lot of confidence in me. They said to relax and play your game. I was able to shake that off and come out here and play.”
Offense struggles: Dayton’s offense looked out of sync throughout the second half. The Flyers made 6-of-11 3-pointers in the first half and 1-of-2 in the second. Miller said the players too many times tried to make plays by themselves in the second half instead of making the extra pass.
“That backfired on us,” he said. “Big disaster. We need to move the ball. We need to post the ball. Until we started to do that later in the second half, we struggled on offense. We turned it over. We lost confidence. Guys stopped running back. They got confidence in transition. Our offense wasn’t very good in the second half.”
Next game: The Flyers play St. Francis (Pa.) at 7 p.m. Wednesday at UD Arena. St. Francis lost 87-67 to another Atlantic 10 school, Fordham, in its season opener Friday.
Dayton’s opponent next Saturday, St. Francis of Brooklyn, beat the Miami Hurricanes 66-62 in overtime Friday.