ANALYSIS: 3 takeaways from Dayton’s loss to George Mason

Flyer can’t capitalize on 26-point performance by Holmes

FAIRFAX, Va. — George Mason handed out bucket hats to fans entering EagleBank Arena on Wednesday. The hats were reversible. Flip them inside out, and they would be green instead of yellow, or vice versa.

The fans got an even bigger treat when the game started. George Mason earned its first victory against a top-25 team at home, beating the No. 16 Dayton Flyers 71-67.

“A big-time win for George Mason basketball,” first-year coach Tony Skinn said. “I’m proud of these guys.”

While George Mason (18-8, 7-6) stayed in sixth place in the Atlantic 10 Conference, Dayton (21-5, 11-3) fell from first to third. The Flyers finished 0-3 in Virginia this season, and they are now 1-3 against teams with winning A-10 records with losses to Richmond (19-7, 11-2), Virginia Commonwealth (17-9, 9-4) and George Mason and a victory against Massachusetts (17-9, 8-6).

“We’re in a position where, because of what our team has been able to do throughout the year, every time we play it’s a big game,” Dayton coach Anthony Grant said. “It’s a huge game. Their players were obviously excited to play, and they stepped up, and our guys kind of played somewhat out of character a little bit. That’s what happens. We’ve seen that enough throughout the year.”

This goes down as Dayton’s worst loss. George Mason ranks 85th in the NCAA Evaluation Tool. No. 1 Houston, No. 57 Northwestern, No. 71 Richmond and No. 78 VCU, the four other teams to beat Dayton, all rank in the top 80. Even with the loss, Dayton is one of 18 teams in the country with at least 20 victories and only five defeats.

“It’s a tough one,” Dayton guard Koby Brea said. “This one’s on us. We have to do better down the stretch.”

Here are three takeaways from Dayton’s 26th game:

1. George Mason took control of the game with a 19-0 run: Dayton opened the second half with a 5-0 run to built a 38-27 lead. It led 42-35 with 16:35 mark and then was outscored 19-0 in the next seven minutes.

George Mason made 11 of 11 free throws during the stretch. Dayton missed seven straight shots and committed five turnovers during the run.

“We’ve done a really good job most of the year, really all of the year, being able to defend without fouling,” Grant said. “When you look at our numbers in league play alone, we’ve taken over 100 more free throws than our opponents. We’ve got guys that are pretty aggressive in terms of understanding who we are. I didn’t think that we really changed what we were trying to do. It just didn’t go in our favor today. We got in foul trouble. Early bonus for them. They were able to get stops, get out in transition.”

2. Dayton recovered from the 19-0 run but didn’t make enough plays in the final minutes: Dayton trailed 53-42 when Brea ended the 19-0 run with a 3-pointer. That started an 11-0 run by Dayton in the next two minutes. Brea tied the game on a 3-pointer at the 7:18 mark.

Dayton took a one-point lead on a 3-pointer by Javon Bennett with 5:56 to play. George Mason answered with back-to-back layups and led the rest of the way.

Even in the final minutes, trying to rally from a five-point deficit, Dayton had a chance. Holmes missed what would have been a game-tying shot at the 1:09 mark. George Mason made 4 of 4 free throws in the final 32 seconds to clinch the victory.

“It sucks,” Holmes said, “but it’s OK. We’ve just got to keep moving forward. We can’t make excuses.”

3. Isaac Jack saw more action than usual: Dayton’s sophomore center played 14 minutes and was on the court for a long stretch late in the game. He had not played double-digit minutes in the last four games.

Jack finished with six points and no rebounds. Grant kept him in the game because he thought it would help Dayton on defense.

“They were able to get to the paint,” Grant said. “They were able to to be aggressive and get to the free-throw line, so we felt like having more size and physicality out there could help us.”

Credit: David Jablonski

Credit: David Jablonski


Dayton forward DaRon Holmes II led all scorers with 26 points. He made 8 of 15 field goals and 8 of 9 free throws.

George Mason freshman guard Baraka Okojie scored a season-high 19 points. He made 5 of 6 field goals and 9 of 9 free throws.


George Mason made 24 of 29 free throws (82.8%). It’s shooting 77% at the line in A-10 play. That’s the second-best mark in the league.

Dayton allowed its second-most free-throw attempts of the season. Richmond made 23 of 30 against the Flyers.


This is the first week since December in which Dayton plays only one game. It returns to action next week, playing Davidson (15-11, 5-8) at 7 p.m. Tuesday at UD Arena.

Davidson beat Fordham 68-53 in Davidson, N.C., on Tuesday. Davidson plays at Richmond (18-7, 10-2) on Saturday.

Dayton won 72-59 at Davidson on Jan. 3 on the opening night of the A-10 season. The Flyers have won eight straight games in the series and is 5-0 against Davidson at UD Arena since Davidson joined the A-10 in the 2014-15 season.


Davidson at Dayton, 7 p.m., CBS Sports Network, 95.7, 1290

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