Senior point guard Scoochie Smith wished the Dayton Flyers played Fordham before Virginia Commonwealth. If he had gotten a taste of Fordham’s pressure, maybe he would have played better at VCU. If his team had to scrap and claw in the final minute first against Fordham, maybe it would have finished the game at VCU better.
That was Smith’s thinking after a 75-66 victory over Fordham on Tuesday at Rose Hill Gym in his hometown.
“I think we needed that,” Smith said. “We’ve won a lot of games 10 plus.”
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Dayton (16-5, 7-2) has won five Atlantic 10 games by double digits. This was its first close win since a 67-64 victory over Rhode Island on Jan. 6.
Dayton bounced back from a 73-68 loss Friday at VCU and moved into a first-place tie with Richmond (13-8, 7-2). VCU (16-5, 6-2) and Richmond play Wednesday at VCU, so Dayton soon will find itself tied again with VCU or a half game behind Richmond.
Smith made numerous timely plays in the final minutes as UD broke open a close game.
“That’s what he does,” Dayton coach Archie Miller said. “The last four or five minutes, regardless of the circumstances, he’s usually there for us. I thought he did a great job delivering the ball on target for easy baskets, and-ones, you name it. That’s why he is who he is. It’s hard. He went 35 minutes dealing with pressure the whole game, and we asked him to defend.”
For Smith, who had 10 points, six assists, three steals and three turnovers in 35 minutes, this game was about more than the standings. He finished his career 4-0 in the Bronx, his hometown. He posed for photos with family and friends after the game. They occupied an entire section behind the Dayton bench. Many wore his No. 11 jersey.
“I heard them all night,” Smith said. “They hate when I ignore them.”
The local media came out to interview Smith after the game and wanted to know about his life in Dayton and his future plans. He wants to play in the NBA or start a business down the line.
“At Dayton, there’s no distractions,” Smith said. “I’m not worried about too much. In New York, there’s always something to do. In Dayton, just like when I was at Putnam, be a gym rat. Be in the gym 24-7. In New York, you’ve got something to do, so if you don’t want to play basketball, you don’t really have to. In Dayton, you’ve got nothing to do. You’re going to do the first thing you love, which is basketball.”