For the second straight game, Kostas Antetokounmpo looked like a difference-maker for the Dayton Flyers — for one half at least.
Antetokounmpo had four points and two blocks in nine minutes Friday in the first half against Rhode Island. He made 2 of 3 shots from the field. He affected shots. He dunked an alley-oop pass from Jalen Crutcher. It was a strong follow-up performance after he tied his career high with 12 points Tuesday in a 53-50 victory against Saint Louis at UD Arena.
Of course, after an 81-56 loss to the Rams at the Ryan Center, Dayton coach Anthony Grant wasn’t in the mood to talk about small bright spots.
“I’m sure I’ll be able to look at the film and we’ll take some positives away from it,” Grant said. “but anytime you get beat the way we got beat tonight it’s tough to really sit here and say there’s anything positive from it.”
Antetokounmpo finished with eight points and four rebounds. He didn’t block a shot in the second half. He did make 4 of 7 free throws. He struggled with turnovers, as did the rest of the team, committing four in 25 minutes.
No matter the result, Antetokounmpo has put himself back in the playing rotation, and Dayton will need him in the final two regular-season games and the Atlantic 10 tournament.
“He’s just playing harder,” Dayton guard Trey Landers said. “That’s a big thing for him. The thing I tell him is, ‘Don’t do it for one game or two games. Try to do it as much as you can.’”
Williams absent: Xeyrius Williams didn’t travel with the team to Rhode Island. According to a UD spokesman, he was tending to academic responsibilities back in Dayton. This is the same explanation Dayton has given for freshman Jordan Pierce no longer traveling to road games.
» KEY STAT: Turnovers doom Dayton in road loss
Williams missed five non-conference games in November and December with a back injury. He didn’t play in four of the previous five games because of a coach’s decision.
Milestone watch: A late-season slump has put Darrell Davis in danger of falling short of reaching 1,000 points. He has made 1 of 11 3-pointers in the last three games.
Davis scored seven points against Saint Louis and had six against the Rams. He has 966 points in his career. He will be honored before the March 3 game against George Washington, along with Joey Gruden, on Senior Day at UD Arena.
Next game: Dayton plays La Salle (5-10, 11-17) at 7 p.m. Wednesday in Philadelphia. Spectrum Sports will televise the game.
The Flyers have lost three straight games at Tom Gola Arena. The Explorers had lost four of their last five games entering a game Saturday at Fordham.