Beating St. Bonaventure ‘monumental task’ for Dayton Flyers

Bonnies bring eight-game win streak to UD Arena

Highlights from the past greet the Dayton Flyers every time they walk into the Donoher Center at UD Arena. The last seconds of the NCAA tournament game against Ohio State in 2014 play on a television screen attached to one wall. Video from the 2016-17 season follows.

Maybe next year Josh Cunningham’s shot against Ball State in the 2017-18 opener will get some time on that TV. That’s the big highlight of the season so far and one of the few standout moments as the season nears its midway point.

» GAME PREVIEW: Dayton vs. St. Bonaventure

Except for one two-game losing streak, Dayton (6-7, 0-1) has alternated wins and losses all season. If that trend continues, it means the Flyers will follow a 70-62 loss Saturday at Duquesne with a victory against St. Bonaventure (11-2, 1-0) at 8:30 p.m. Wednesday at UD Arena. If that happens, it will be the biggest victory yet in Anthony Grant’s first season.

Of course, the odds are stacked against the Flyers. The Bonnies have won eight straight games. That streak that includes a victory at Syracuse. They also have two of the best players in the conference, senior guards Jaylen Adams and Matt Mobley, who average 38.4 points between them.

“They’re a veteran team led by seniors, two preseason all-league guys,” Grant said Tuesday. “It’s a monumental task. Obviously, we’ve got to be really good defensively to limit their opportunities, but I think we also have to be really good from an offensive standpoint.”

Adams scored six points in his first game against Dayton as a freshman. In four games over the last two seasons, he has averaged 29 points per game. He scored 31 points at UD Arena two seasons ago in a 79-72 victory. He had 35 points last season at Dayton in a 76-72 loss.

Adams missed the first six games this season with an ankle injury but has regained his old form. He had 32 points Saturday on 10-of-16 shooting in a 98-78 victory against Massachusetts.

» RECRUITING: Dayton offers scholarship to 2018 forward

Dayton senior guard Darrell Davis likely will draw the assignment of guarding Adams.

“It’s going to be a tough,” Davis said. “He’s going to score some points. I’m going to try to keep myself out of foul trouble. That’s the first thing. I need to stay on the court for my team. But I can’t let that get into my head. He’s a good player. They’re a good team. Mobley’s a good player, also. I’ve just got to be patient and see if I can create some bad shots for him.”

Dayton expects point guard John Crosby to be available Wednesday. He didn’t play against Duquesne after suffering a concussion in practice Thursday.

“John’s doing better,” Grant said. “He should be able to practice today, and we expect him to be able to compete tomorrow.”

Grant also said Xeyrius Williams remains healthy. He played six minutes against Duquense, causing fans to wonder if his back injury was bothering him again. Grant said that wasn’t the problem.

“He’s just got to put himself in a position where he can get out there and help us more,” Grant said.

Williams had one rebound and missed his only shot attempt. He didn’t play in the second half — nor did Kostas Antetokounmpo, who committed a technical foul with 1:09 left in the first half.

» DUQUESNE GAME: Grant talks to Bucky | Late run dooms UD | Photos

The Flyers need Williams and Antetokounmpo, but Grant has shown all year he’ll bench players during games if he doesn’t feel they’re giving the team the best chance to win. He even did that with Cunningham in the final 10 minutes of the second game of the season against Hofstra. It has been a similar story with Crosby and Jalen Crutcher and Matej Svoboda all season. Their minutes have dipped and climbed and dipped again.

As for Williams and Antetokounmpo, Grant said, “It’s another situation where the opportunity is there and the need is there. We need those guys to step up and to be able to do the things the team needs.”

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