Three takeaways from Dayton’s season-ending loss to VCU

Stagnant offense in final three minutes costs Flyers in A-10 tournament


The season ended as it began for the Dayton Flyers — with everything hanging on a lob pass to Josh Cunningham.

Four months after Xeyrius Williams found Cunningham under the basket for a buzzer-beating shot in a victory against Ball State in coach Anthony Grant’s first game, Jalen Crutcher lofted a pass to Cunningham. The Flyers trailed Virginia Commonwealth 72-70 with 34 seconds to play. Cunningham caught the ball but had it stripped away by Mike’l Simms.

VCU’s Malik Crowfield grabbed the loose ball. Then the Rams secured a 77-72 victory in the second round of the Atlantic 10 tournament with four free throws in the final 20 seconds.

With that, Dayton’s slim chance of extending its streaks of 11 straight winning seasons and four straight NCAA tournament appearances ended. The Flyers finished 14-17, the same record they had in 2005-06, the last time they had a losing season. It’s Dayton’s second losing season in the last 19 years.

Senior guard Darrell Davis, the last remaining Flyer who had played in a NCAA tournament victory, left the court for the final time with hopes that better days lie ahead for his program.

» PREDICTIONS: Majority of UD fans think Bonnies will win A-10

Davis planned to get on the bus after the game and talk to his younger teammates, telling them, “You guys, don’t worry about anything. You’ve got a great backcourt coming in. You’ve got a great nucleus. You’re going to be a good team in these years to come. Just stay focused and keep working.”

Here are three takeaways from the game:

1. Late collapse: Dayton took its largest lead, 70-65, on a basket by Trey Landers with 3:16 to play. On the next two possessions, the offensive looked tentative, and Kostas Antetokounmpo and Crutcher missed desperate shots with the shot clock expiring.

Meanwhile, VCU surged ahead with a 3-pointer by De’Riante Jenkins, a layup by Isaac Vann and finally a tough jump shot in traffic by Jonathan Williams with 56 seconds to go.

The lob pass to Cunningham followed the go-ahead shot by Williams.

“One of the shot clock violations, we were disjointed offensively,” Grant said. “Ended up with a fadeaway shot on the baseline that just was a bad offensive possession. The other one, VCU did a good job defensively.”

2. Clutch shots: Dayton did a better job against VCU star Justin Tillman, who scored 37 points in the last game against Dayton and 15 in this one. However, Jenkins, Vann and Williams — the three players who hit the big shots in the 7-0 run that won the game — all scored in double figures. They combined for 35 points.

» WOMEN’S BASKETBALL: Dayton women waiting for Selection Monday

VCU (18-14) improved to 13-4 in six A-10 tournament appearances. It has played in the championship game in each of the previous five seasons but will have to get by No. 1 seed Rhode Island in the quarterfinals Friday to keep its title hopes alive.

“I thought the spirit of our team the last few minutes of the game, even though we were down, sort of told the story to me,” said VCU coach Mike Rhoades, whose team beat Dayton twice after losing 106-79 at UD Arena in January. “The guys, they believe they are going to win. I told them in the one time-out at the end, get three stops and we’ll win the game, and it was maybe the three best stops of the season. Our defense won it for us down the stretch.”

3. Shooting struggles: Dayton committed only 10 turnovers and made 13 of 16 free throws. It even won the rebounding battle, 37-30. The Flyers lost the game by shooting 42.9 percent from the field (27 of 63) and 23.8 percent from 3-point range (5 of 21).

Trey Landers led Dayton with 19 points. Cunningham scored 17. Davis scored 14 points, finishing his career with 1,008 points.

Dayton overcame a 10-point deficit in the second half, but the offensive struggles that plagued it in the first half came back in the final minutes.

“I feel like we got a lot of clean looks, especially in the first half,” Landers said. “We just didn’t hit the shots. Second half was pretty much more of the same thing. We’re an inside-out team, especially when you have a guy as dominant as Josh — him being able to pass the ball, moving around him. I feel like we got a little stagnant the second half but at the end of the day, I feel like we had a lot of clean looks.”



Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Sports

Maryland runs to 24-17 halftime lead against Ohio State
Maryland runs to 24-17 halftime lead against Ohio State

Maryland leads Ohio State 24-17 at halftime of a wild game in College Park.  The Terrapins shredded the Buckeye defense throughout the first 30 minutes, starting on Maryland’s second play from scrimmage when Anthony McFarland went around left end for an 81-yard touchdown.  Roughly five minutes later, he torched the Buckeyes again, breaking...
Dayton Flyers notes: Cunningham has extra incentive in first game
Dayton Flyers notes: Cunningham has extra incentive in first game

Josh Cunningham made 9 of 10 shots from the field and scored 20 points in the first game of his final season with the Dayton Flyers, showing no rust after missing the first two games with a wrist injury. The redshirt senior forward also had extra incentive to perform well. For the second time in his career, Cunningham’s girlfriend, A&rsquo...
Dayton Flyers overcome adversity in victory against Purdue Fort Wayne
Dayton Flyers overcome adversity in victory against Purdue Fort Wayne

Dayton Flyers guard Trey Landers did his best Braxton Miller impression in the first half Friday against Purdue Fort Wayne — one Wayne High School graduate spinning like the other. Miller’s spin move three years ago in an Ohio State football game at Virginia Tech will live forever on social media. The move by Landers in a 91-80 victory...
Fairborn teenager adds two more city bowling titles
Fairborn teenager adds two more city bowling titles

It started as a simple childhood request and evolved into more than a dozen city titles. “I came home from school one day and told my parents I wanted to go bowling,” Audrey Renner said. “Next thing I knew I was in a Saturday morning league.” Fast forward a little more than a decade and the now 17-year-old has tallied two more...
High School Football: Friday’s regional finals scores

Football Regional Finals Friday’s Results Division I Region 1 — Lakewood St. Edward 24, Mentor 14 Region 2 — Olentangy Liberty 21, Dublin Coffman 7 Region 3 — Pickerington Central 20, Hilliard Davidson 13 Region 4 — Cin. Colerain 42, Cin. Elder 0 Division II Region 5 — Akron Hoban 52, Maple Heights 6 Region 6 &mdash...
More Stories