NASSAU, Bahamas — Anyone who thought the Dayton Flyers deserved some love from the basketball gods after the events of the past three years was reminded Friday of how fickle those gods can be.
Dayton’s program has been through some dark days since the 29-2 season of 2019-20 ended with the cancellation of the postseason by the pandemic. There was the season that followed without fans in the stands, though every program experienced that. There was last season, which started with three straight losses in buy games at UD Arena, and ended in the NIT as Dayton was the first team left out of the NCAA tournament.
Dayton’s experience Friday on the final day of the Battle 4 Atlantis ranks right up there with the worst days in recent history. The Flyers lost 79-75 in overtime to Brigham Young at Imperial Arena to finish last in the eight-team tournament but also lost guards Kobe Elvis and Malachi Smith to injuries late in the second half.
Dayton forward DaRon Holmes II summed up everyone’s feelings the best.
“It just sucks, honestly,” Holmes said.
Here are five takeaways from Dayton’s fourth loss:
1. Dayton blew a 23-point lead: Dayton opened the game against BYU with a 32-9 run in the first 14 minutes and led by 16 points at halftime.
“I probably didn’t do a great job preparing us for this game,” BYU coach Mark Pope said. ‘We really started out on our heels. We have some some some holes in our game right now that we’re trying to address. Guys were being a little bit cautious. And Dayton has a great team. They were in the top 25 a week ago. They’re veteran guys, and they know how to play together and have been through these wars. All of that put together got us off to a tough start, but I couldn’t be more proud of these players. They just are so hungry to get better, so hungry to improve and do it together.”
2. BYU got back in the game by getting hot from 3-point range: The Cougars (4-3) couldn’t make a shot early and couldn’t miss late. They made 13 of 27 3-pointers in the game and 9 of 17 in the second half and overtime.
“The game is always going to be 40 minutes,” Dayton coach Anthony Grant said. “Basketball is always going to be a game of runs. I think the one thing we can look at from this, the seven games now that we’ve played, is the ability to sustain our intensity and the execution, both offensively and defensively. If I’m being honest, it’s understandable just because of what we’ve dealt with in injuries at this point and the limitations on being able to practice and guys being on the floor and playing with each other. This is probably the most extended time guys we’ve played together.”
3. Dayton finally had a decent shooting game: The Flyers made 7 of 20 3-pointers (35%). They did not shoot better than 31% in the first six games.
Mike Sharavjamts made 3 of 7 3-pointers and scored a season-high 15 points. Mustapha Amzil made 2 of 5 3-pointers and scored eight points.
4. Dayton again had a shot blocked in the final seconds: Kobe Elvis had a chance to win the game Wednesday against Wisconsin but had his jumper blocked with seconds to play. Smith drove to the basket in the final seconds with the game tied this time but twisted his ankle on the play as he threw up a shot that was blocked.
5. Dayton’s March hopes are dire at this point: The Flyers almost always count on at least two victories at these November tournaments to improve their NCAA tournament at-large resume. They got three last year, and it was almost enough to get them into the tournament and would have been if not for the three earlier losses. Now Dayton has two more opportunities in non-conference play for resume-boosting victories: against Virginia Tech and Wyoming, though Wyoming is off to a 3-3 start.
STAR OF THE GAME
BYU’s Gideon George scored 21 points and made 3 of 5 3-pointers. He scored 14 points in each of the first two games at the tournament against Southern California and Butler.
STAT OF THE GAME
BYU made a season-best 13 of 27 3-pointers one day after making a season-worst 3 of 20 against Butler.
Dayton plays Western Michigan (2-4) at 7 p.m. Wednesday. The Broncos played well in their season opener, losing 61-60 at Minnesota but have since lost to three sub-200 teams in the Ken Pomeroy ratings. They have one victory against a Division I opponent: No. 332 Houston Christian.
Western Michigan won a total of 13 games the last two seasons and has a new coach this season: Dwayne Stephens, a longtime assistant coach on Tom Izzo’s staff at Michigan State.
Western Michigan at Dayton, 7 p.m., ESPN+, 95.7, 1290
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