NASSAU, Bahamas — The Dayton Flyers have almost the same team as a year ago. They won 24 games and returned all their most important players while adding a top-100 recruit in Mike Sharavjamts.
That’s why they started the season in the top 25. It’s why all the offseason stories painted a picture of a team with unlimited potential. Maybe that potential is still there. It is a long season.
At the moment, however, even the most optimistic UD fans — the ones who spent small fortunes to stay at the Atlantis Paradise Island resort this week — are ready to jump ship, or jet ski, since those are readily available to rent a short walk way from Imperial Arena.
Dayton (3-3) lost 76-64 to North Carolina State in the consolation bracket of the Battle 4 Atlantis on Thursday and now has to win at 3:30 p.m. Friday against Brigham Young, which lost 75-70 to Butler, to avoid its first 0-3 finish in a November tournament since 1992.
Here are five takeaways from Dayton’s third loss:
1. Everything unraveled during a 17-0 run by the Wolfpack: Dayton opened the second half with a 7-2 run to take a 39-38 lead. Over the next 4½ minutes, Dayton turned the ball over four times.
N.C. State couldn’t miss in that stretch. Jarkell Joiner scored six of his 27 points during the 17-0 spurt.
“Defensively, we didn’t do a great job of stopping them in transition,” Dayton’s Toumani Camara said. “They were pushing the ball, and we just were not locked in defensively. Offensively, we had a lot of things going for us, but we didn’t stay true to ourselves.”
2. Dayton couldn’t build on a strong start: The Flyers had a 19-9 lead at the 11:58 mark. That was big news considering they scored 14 points in the first half Wednesday against Wisconsin. Things were going so well Malachi Smith walked into the stands to slap hands with fans after his momentum carried him that way following a layup and foul.
The Wolfpack then outscored Dayton 14-3 over the next six minutes.
“I thought our ball movement, our player movement, our energy was great,” N.C. State coach Kevin Keatts said.
3. The Flyers lost their composure in the second half: The Dayton coaching staff got a technical foul in the first round in a 43-42 loss to Wisconsin, and Grant got a technical foul in the second half in this game and was restrained by his assistants after the whistle. Mustapha Amzil also got hit with one during the 17-0 run.
“I thought the refs missed a call,” Grant said. “I don’t know what the film will show, but from my vantage point, I thought he took three steps, and I was upset about it. Mustapha, I don’t know exactly what happened in terms of what he said or what happened there. I think he got maybe an offensive foul that he disagreed with, but he’s got to move on in those situations. Obviously I’ve got to hold myself accountable as well.”
4. Dayton’s struggles from 3-point range continued: The Flyers shot a season-low 11 3-pointers after taking a season-high 27 against Wisconsin. They made two of them. They are shooting 25.5% from 3-point range. That ranks 334th out of 363 Division I teams.
“They’ll shoot the ball better,” Keatts said. “I promise you.”
5. Dayton needs a win Friday to avoid a dubious fate: The last Dayton team to finish 0-3 in a November tournament finished the season 4-26. That was the 1992-93 team that opened the season with losses to Illinois, UAB and Alaska-Anchorage in the Great Alaska Shootout.
Dayton will play at 3:30 p.m. Friday against the loser of the last game Thursday.
STAR OF THE GAME
Joiner scored 27 points on 7-of-12 shooting. He made 11 of 13 free throws. This was his third game against Dayton. He played the Flyers the last two seasons when he was at Mississippi and scored 22 points in those games.
STAT OF THE GAME
Dayton point guard Malachi Smith had six assists but seven turnovers in his third game back since injuring his ankle. He had nine points in 32 minutes.
Dayton will have to win Friday to avoid its first 3-4 start since Grant’s first season in 2017-18. Dayton finished 14-17 that season. It will be Dayton’s last chance for a resume-building victory until it plays at Virginia Tech on Dec. 7, though after three losses in four games, Dayton is a long way from having an at-large resume worthy of the NCAA tournament. Dayton has yet to win away from UD Arena.
Dayton vs. Butler/BYU, 3:30 p.m., ESPNU, 1290, 95.7
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