The Dayton Flyers have won 98 games in the past four seasons. The 2016-17 senior class moved past the 2011 class Tuesday, beating Saint Louis 85-63 for their 98th career victory.
Of course, UD plays more regular-season games these days than it did in the glory days of the Don Donoher era in the 1960s. It’s important to keep that in mind while not letting it detract from the accomplishment of Dayton’s six seniors: Scoochie Smith, Kendall Pollard and Kyle Davis, who played major roles in each of the past four seasons; Charles Cooke, the team’s leading scorer the past two years; and the two walk-ons who have contributed so much behind the scenes the last three seasons, Joey Gruden and Jeremiah Bonsu.
It’s also important to note this is class does not have the best winning percentage in school history. That distinction belongs to the 1958 group.
However you look at what these seniors have done, though, it is impressive. The 98 wins include seventh one-point victories, four two-point victories and eight three-point victories.
Dayton has won games in 12 states ranging from Hawaii to Rhode Island, plus Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia. The Flyers have won five NCAA tournament games and four Atlantic 10 tournament games.
In ranking the victories, the top games were easy to determine. I put the record-tying No. 97 win and the record-breaking 98th win in the top 25 because of their significance. Most of the games past the 25 are ranked according the Ken Pomeroy rating of the opponent. Here’s a look back at the top 25 wins of the past four seasons:
1. March 20, 2014: Dayton 60, Ohio State 59
Vee Sanford’s bank shot in Buffalo beat the Buckeyes in the first round of the NCAA tournament. Dyshawn Pierre led the Flyers with 12 points. UD overcame poor outside shooting (3 of 13) with strong free-throw shooting (13 of 17). Dayton became the first team from Ohio to beat the Buckeyes since Toledo in 1998.
2. March 22, 2014: Dayton 55, Syracuse 53
The Flyers advanced to the Sweet 16 with another thrilling finish in Buffalo. Dyshawn Pierre scored 14 points. Jordan Sibert hit a key 3-pointer in the final minute. The Orange shot 0 of 10 from 3-point range, and Tyler Ennis missed what would have been the game-winning shot at the buzzer.
3. March 18, 2015: Dayton 56, Boise State 55
Dayton made the the most of a home game in the First Four. The team’s lone senior, Sibert, made a 3-pointer in the final minute put UD ahead, and Kyle Davis played tough defense on Boise’s final shot at the buzzer. The headline the next day was, “Too noisy for Boise.”
“I got to relive another senior night, I guess,” Sibert said, “and it was electrifying.”
4. March 27, 2014: Dayton 82, Stanford 72
UD took its game to another level in Memphis, Tenn., dominating Stanford for a return to the Elite Eight for the first time in 30 years. One highlight was Kendall Pollard’s breakout performance. The freshman scored 12 points on 5-of-6 shooting in 14 minutes, providing a glimpse of the ability that would make him the Atlantic 10’s Most Improved Player a season later.
5. March 20, 2015: Dayton 66, Providence 53
Dayton fans made themselves at home at Nationwide Arena in Columbus much to the chagrin of Friars coach Ed Cooley. The Flyers won their fifth NCAA tournament game in two seasons. UD held providence to 33.3 percent shooting.
6. March 5, 2016: Dayton 68, VCU 67 (OT)
A tough shot by Kyle Davis in the final minute allowed the Flyers to clinch a share of the Atlantic 10 title and cut down the nets on Senior Night. Scoochie Smith scored a career-high 29 points, including the game-tying basket with 11 seconds left to send the game to overtime. The Flyers shot 35 percent from the field. This was one of eight games in the past four seasons they’ve won while shooting worse than 40 percent.
7. Nov. 25, 2013: Dayton 84, Gonzaga 79
The Flyers upset the No. 10 Bulldogs in the first round of the Maui Invitational in a game that started at midnight Ohio time. Pollard scored nine points in his fifth college game.
8. Feb. 28, 2015: Dayton 59, VCU 55
For the second straight year, Dayton picked up a key road win against a ranked conference opponent, knocking off the No. 22 Rams in Richmond, Va. Sibert scored 19 points. Pollard had 16.
“It’s the right time to play this type of basketball,” Smith said. “We played hard. March starts tomorrow.”
9. March 5, 2014: Dayton 72, Saint Louis 67
The Flyers beat a ranked team on the road in conference play for the first time in school history. They were 0-for-15 against such opponents. Dayton spoiled Senior Night for the 17th-ranked Billikens. It was a big game for Pollard, Smith and Davis, who combined for 19 points. Saint Louis inspired the Flyers by leaving a pair of scissors under the basket to cut the nets down for winning the A-10 title after the win.
“You never want to be anybody’s piñata,” Sibert said. “To avoid it, you go out there and play as hard as you can, and you try to get the best result. Tonight the W was the result.”
10. Nov. 26, 2015: Dayton 82, Iowa 77
The 2016-17 senior class (Cooke, Smith, Pollard and Davis) combined for 65 points in the first round of the Advocare Invitational in Orlando, Fla. Smith put the Flyers ahead for good on a layup with 1:25 to play. This victory would help pave the way for UD to make the NCAA tournament for a third straight season as Iowa ranked in the top 25 of the RPI for most of the season.
Dayton brought a large crowd as usual to Orlando, and UD even paid to bring the pep band to the tournament.
“The fans did a good job standing on their feet all night,” Pollard said. “We appreciate those guys.”
11. Dec. 9, 2015: Dayton 72, Vanderbilt 67
Win No. 60 for the 2017 senior class came in Nashville against the No. 21 team in the country. Pollard scored 21 points. UD overcame a 16-point deficit.
“Certainly, it’s a terrific win for our team,” Miller said. “To come down here and play that caliber of team, I thought we prepared well. I thought our guys were ready to play. There were a couple moments in this game where I thought we could have went away.”
12. Nov. 9, 2013: Dayton 81, IPFW 80
The first win for Dayton’s current seniors featured one of the craziest finishes in UD history. Jordan Sibert hit a 3-pointer from the corner with 1 second to play. That followed a steal by Khari Price on a pass to half court and the first career assist for Kyle Davis. Had the Flyers not won this season opener, they may have been on the wrong side of the bubble in March and never had a chance to make their Elite Eight run.
“Watching Khari’s effort level,” Miller said, “making a hard, hard play on the ball, watching Kyle, in his first college game, having the savvy and sense to pick it up and kick it and watching Jordan, in his first college game in a long time, step up with one of the biggest shots that’s ever went in in that arena, to me that’s what it’s about. Watching those guys make some plays under hard times and watching them execute under some drastic measures.”
13. Jan. 4, 2014: Dayton 83, Mississippi 80
Devin Oliver’s bank shot 3-pointer with 0.3 seconds in overtime carried the Flyers past the Rebels in Oxford, Miss., and capped a tremendous non-conference season that would pay dividends on Selection Sunday. Oliver turned in one of the best offensive performances of the past five seasons, scoring 22 of his 26 points in the second half and overtime.
“After I shot it, I called (bank shot),” Oliver said, “but not initially. I didn’t care if it hit the rim 17 times and went it.”
“It was the prettiest bank shot I’ve ever seen,” Miller said.
14. March 14, 2015: Dayton 56, Rhode Island 52
This victory in the A-10 semifinals in Brooklyn, N.Y., likely clinched a NCAA tournament bid. A day later, UD was surprised to learn it would play in the First Four. Six players scored between 8 and 12 points.
15. Jan. 6, 2017: Dayton 67, Rhode Island 64
Win No. 90 came at UD Arena. Smith scored 21 points. Pollard had 18 on his 22nd birthday.
“For our guys it was a heck of a statement as far as team togetherness and toughness,” Miller said. “Our guys really hung in there. We have some guys playing really, really hard right now.”
16. Dec. 30, 2014: Dayton 78, Mississippi 74
UD completed a two-game series sweep. Darrell Davis made 3 of 3 3-pointers, completing a three-game stretch in which he made 10 of 10. Dayton completed its non-conference schedule with a mark of 10-2.
17. Feb. 1, 2014: Dayton 75, George Washington 65
The Flyers ended a four-game losing streak and began the rally that would lead to an Elite Eight run. The Colonials played without their leading scorer and starting point guard. Devin Oliver tweeted after the game, “We are back!!!!”
18. Dec. 22, 2015: Dayton 64, Miami 63
A jump shot by Kyle Davis with 2.1 seconds left saved the Flyers. This is one of six games UD has won by one point in the past four seasons.
“As soon as I got the ball, actually heard Scoochie (point guard Scoochie Smith was on the bench) in my ear yelling ‘Shoot the ball! Shoot the ball!,’” Davis said. “I just thought, ‘Man, I’m gonna live on the drive and take my chance of getting fouled. It was an unexpected shot. I drove to the basket and just tried to float it with my left.”
19. Dec. 30, 2015: Dayton 85, Arkansas 81 (OT)
Dayton led 30-7 at the 10:11 mark of the first half, but the Razorbacks quickly got back into the game. Anthlon Bell hit a 3-pointer with 1.4 seconds to play to send the game to overtime. Pierre returned to action after being suspended for the first semester and scored 11 points.
20. March 3, 2015: Dayton 75, Rhode Island 59
Celebrating Senior Night, though it would turn out to be his second-to-last game at UD Arena, Sibert scored 21 points, making 6 of 6 shots from the field, 1 of 1 3-pointers and 8 of 8 free throws. The Flyers finished the regular season with a 16-0 record at UD Arena.
“I couldn’t think of any other way to have a Senior Night,” Sibert said. “I’ve just been blessed this entire year.”
21. Feb. 10, 2017: Dayton 75, Rhode Island 74
Xeyrius Williams made two 3-pointers in the final 30 seconds, the last one with 10 seconds to play, as the Flyers stunned the Rams to take over sole possession of first in the A-10. The victory was No. 97. UD’s seniors tied the school record.
Williams called it the biggest shot of his life.
“This is definitely No. 1,” Williams said. “The stage is way different. I think this is the biggest.”
22. Feb. 14, 2017: Dayton 85, Saint Louis 63
The senior class broke the school record for wins with a dominant road performance. This was win No. 98.
“We’re just really proud of them,” said Dayton Athletic Director Neil Sullivan, who watched the game from a couple rows behind the bench. “We’re proud of everything they’ve done for themselves, for the program, for the community. Those guys have been through a lot of battles, a lot of ups and downs. It will stick with them the rest of their lives. We’re thrilled that will be a part of their legacy, but I also think they know they’re not done. They’ve got their sights set pretty high.”
23. March 8, 2014: Dayton 60, Richmond 48
Oliver and Sanford combined for 30 points on their Senior Night. UD closed the regular season with a 22-9 record and nine wins in their last 10 games.
24. March 13, 2015: Dayton 75, St. Bonaventure 71
The 50th win for the senior class came in the quarterfinals of the A-10 tournament. Pollard scored 26 points. That remains his career high. UD trailed 67-64 with 2:11 to go but took control with a 5-0 run.
“We’re just a tough team that doesn’t want to go home early,” Kyle Davis said. “We want to play for a championship on Sunday. We just want to grind out and play hard every day down here to get one.”
25. Nov. 20, 2014: Dayton 55, Texas A&M 53
The Flyers won their opening-round game at the Puerto Rico Tipoff thanks to a tip-in by Devon Scott with 1.2 seconds to play.