WASHINGTON, D.C. — A George Washington fan held up a sign that read “Ohio isn’t real” during the second half Saturday. A large portion of the crowd at Charles E. Smith Arena applauded. You can buy T-shirts with the same statement, despite the overwhelming evidence that Ohio exists.
There is less evidence to support the idea of the Dayton Flyers being a championship team or one that could make a run during the Atlantic 10 Conference tournament in March.
UD lost 76-69 to George Washington and never held the lead or got closer than six points in the second half. The Flyers didn’t get blown out as they did Dec. 7 in a 77-49 loss at Virginia Tech. They had more heartbreaking losses to Wisconsin, Brigham Young and Virginia Commonwealth. They lost by more points at UNLV and against North Carolina State. But until Saturday, they had not lost to a team like George Washington, which ranks 191st in the NCAA Evaluation Tool.
Coach Anthony Grant described George Washington’s starting guards — James Bishop IV, Brendan Adams and Maximus Edwards — as a three-headed monster after the game as they combined for 60 points.
“Those guys have been the bulk of their offense, so we knew we had to do a good job in the first half,” Grant said. “We didn’t do as well as we needed to. Some of it was our offense that led to them being able to get out in transition.”
Here are three takeaways from Dayton’s 20th game:
1. George Washington shut down DaRon Holmes II: Eighteen NBA scouts requested credentials for the game, mostly to see Dayton’s leading scorer. He did not play like the dominant force who scored 32 points two times in three games earlier this season.
Holmes made 5 of 15 field goals and scored 14 points. He also made 5 of 15 field goals in Dayton’s loss at Virginia Tech.
“Teams have been a lot more physical on him, put a lot of bodies around him,” Grant said. “He’s played against some some bigs with good size. I think he’d be the first to tell you he’s got to play better. He’s got to be able to handle them better. We’ve got to figure out ... I’ve got to figure out how to help him a little bit better.”
2. Dayton couldn’t take advantage of improved depth: For the first time since last season, Dayton had Malachi Smith, Kobe Elvis and Koby Brea available at the same time. Elvis played for the first time since Nov. 25. Smith played in his second straight game. Brea missed the four games when Elvis and Smith were healthy in November.
Dayton played largely an eight-man rotation, though a ninth player, Zimi Nwokeki, played 93 seconds in the first half.
Long term, Dayton needs Smith and Elvis. In the short term, it has to learn to play with them again.
“It’s a long season,” Brea said. “We’re going to need everybody.”
3. The shots just weren’t falling: Toumani Camara and Elvis combined to make 4 of 8 3-pointers. The rest of the team made 4 of 19. Dayton had not shot this many 3-pointers since making 4 of 27 in the loss to Wisconsin in the Bahamas.
STAR OF THE GAME
George Washington guard James Bishop, the A-10′s leading scorer with 21.7 points per game, scored 27 points. He made 10 of 19 field goals and 7 of 10 free throws. Bishop scored 10, 12 and 17 points in the first three games he played against Dayton in his career.
STAT OF THE GAME
George Washington put the game away by making 16 of 16 free throws in the last 1:13. It made 21 of 26 in the game. It entered the game shooting 76.4% at the line, the 30th-best number in the country.
Dayton plays Rhode Island (6-13, 2-5) at 7 p.m. Wednesday at the Ryan Center in Kingston, R.I. Dayton will face its former coach, Archie Miller, for the first time. Rhode Island lost 79-72 at home to George Mason on Saturday. It has lost three games in a row.
Dayton at Rhode Island, 7 p.m., CBS Sports Network, 1290, 95.7