Dayton had won three straight games in the series. It fell to Rhode Island for the first time since Feb. 16, 2021, when it lost 91-89 in double overtime at the Ryan Center
Here are three takeaways from Dayton’s 21st game:
1. The Flyers wasted a strong start: Dayton led 22-11 after a layup by Malachi Smith at the 9:56 mark. The Rams began a 17-1 run on two free throws by Brayon Freeman at the 8:56 mark. Dayton didn’t make another field goal until a dunk by DaRon Holmes II with 1:23 to play.
Dayton trailed 32-27 at halftime, and its slump continued in the second half. It scored three points in the first 4½ minutes and saw Rhode Island push its lead to 43-30 at the 15:28 mark.
“We started the game with the right focus and the right energy,” Grant said. “Rhode Island is a gritty team, a physical team. As the game wore on, we started doing less and less of the hard things that are required to win on the road and win against anybody.”
2. Rhode Island hurt Dayton at the free-throw line: The Flyers shot better from the field than the Rams (50-46%) and took two more shots. Turnovers weren’t a big issue. Dayton had 12. Rhode Island had 11. Dayton even shot better from the 3-point line, making 7 of 17 to Rhode Island’s 6 of 22.
At the line, however, Rhode Island made 23 of 26, and Dayton made 11 of 18.
“Their ability to get to the free-throw line tonight,” Grant said, “and their ability to attack our paint and get buckets offensive rebounds, free throws, those are things that coming in we said we had to do, and we did not do them consistently enough tonight to be able to win.”
3. Dayton still hasn’t completed a serious comeback this season: Every time, Dayton had faced a double-digit deficit this season, it has lost. On the other hand, Dayton has blown double-digit leads in five of its eight losses.
In the locker room after the game, Dayton guard Malachi Smith said the players talked about the need for togetherness, something that has been missing on the court in the last two games.
“We need to play more connected,” he said.
Smith also knows Dayton needs to find something deep inside itself to save this season.
“We need to be that dog team we were last year,” he said.
STAR OF THE GAME
Guard Ishmael Leggett led Rhode Island with 25 points. He made 7 of 17 field goals and 11 of 11 free throws. He entered the game averaging 15.8 points per game. This was his second-highest scoring game of the season. He had 34 against Tulane in November.
STAT OF THE GAME
Dayton’s last two opponents, George Washington and Rhode Island, have made 44 of 52 free throws (84.6%). Prior to these two games, no team had made more than 14 free throws against Dayton.
Dayton plays Richmond (11-10, 4-4) at 4 p.m. Saturday at UD Arena. Richmond lost 85-76 at Massachusetts (12-8, 3-5) on Wednesday. The Spiders have lost three of their last four games.
Richmond at Dayton, 4 p.m., CBS Sports Network, 1290, 95.7