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

HS Scores 12/12: Thomas leads Tecumseh in win

Boys Basketball Tuesday’s Results Alter 56, LaSalle 49: Uhl (A) 23; Lemons (L) 16 Beavercreek 60, Fairborn 57: Herbert (B) 18; Monore (F) 32 Butler 70, Northmont 60 Carlisle 66, Milton Union 44: Gay (C) 19, Stone (MU) 12. Catholic Central 55, Greeneview 34: Doolittle (S) 20; Caudill (G) 14. Cinncinnati Christian 63, St.Bernard 50: Rogers (C)...
Blackburn McCafferty trophy, which Dayton and Xavier fought over for decades, up for auction
Blackburn McCafferty trophy, which Dayton and Xavier fought over for decades, up for auction

Xavier University is auctioning off its copy of the Blackburn McCafferty Trophy, the rivalry trophy the Musketeers and the Dayton Flyers fought over for decades. The Xavier Athletics Department auction on describes the trophy as being in fair condition with “scratches to wood and metal” and “chips in the acrylic...
Trotwood-Madison’s announcement it had been voted out of the GWOC
Trotwood-Madison’s announcement it had been voted out of the GWOC

Trotwood-Madison High School was notified on Wednesday that its Greater Western Ohio Conference membership was ending. By an 8-1 vote, the Rams were informed they have until the end of the 2018-19 school year to remain in the conference. Athletic directors from the eight eventual remaining GWOC schools – Beavercreek, Centerville, Fairmont, Miamisburg...
Reds trade one Tanner for another at baseball’s winter meetings
Reds trade one Tanner for another at baseball’s winter meetings

The Cincinnati Reds traded one right-handed pitcher named Tanner for another right-handed pitcher named Tanner on Wednesday in their first deal at baseball’s winter meetings in Las Vegas, Nev. The Reds  deal Tanner Rainey to the Washington Nationals for Tanner Roark. Roark, 32, was 64-54 with a 3.59 ERA in six seasons with the Nationals...
Business as usual at Ohio State despite Urban Meyer’s pending retirement
Business as usual at Ohio State despite Urban Meyer’s pending retirement

What is the mood in the Woody Hayes Athletics Center like since Urban Meyer announced he will retire from coaching after the Rose Bowl?  Robert Landers was among the Buckeyes who described it as pretty much the same as before.  “Coach Meyer is still Coach Meyer,” the junior defensive tackle from Wayne High School said. &ldquo...
More Stories