The Dayton Flyers coaching staff always has a deep selection of chewing gum to choose from before games. The packs line the media table near the bench. There were eight different flavors sitting there before a game against Richmond on Saturday at UD Arena.
There’s not enough gum at the nearest Speedway to erase the taste of Dayton’s last two losses — 76-69 at George Washington on Jan. 21 and 75-70 at Rhode Island on Wednesday — but an 86-60 victory against the Spiders provided a breath of fresh air for a team trying to avoid its second three-game losing streak of the season.
A lineup change provided a spark. Dayton started Malachi Smith, Kobe Elvis, R.J. Blakney, Daron Holmes II and Toumani Camara, a group that started most of last season together. That five started three games together in November but had been kept apart by injuries since.
“I feel like having those five is a great way for us to set the tone to begin the game,” guard Koby Brea said. “They all bring a lot of energy. Our job on the bench is to keep that same energy and keep that same intensity when we come into the game. (Anthony Grant) told me earlier in the week he wanted me to be like a sparkplug. So it’s all about accepting your role and doing whatever the team needs.”
Brea did plenty of that, making 6 of 7 3-pointers and leading the team with 18 points in 22 minutes. That was one reason Dayton (14-8, 6-3) ended a two-game losing streak with its most lopsided victory against Richmond in 32 games since the series began in 2001.
Here are three takeaways from Dayton’s 22nd game:
1. Dayton clinched the victory by making 15 shots in a row: Dayton took a 19-12 lead on a 3-pointer by Brea with 6:54 left in the first half. That would be the first of 15 straight made shots by the Flyers. The 15th basket in the run, by Toumani Camara with 16:55 left in the game, gave Dayton a 54-25 lead.
The streak included: 12 points by Brea on four made 3s; seven points each by DaRon Holmes II and Toumani Camara; four points by Mustapha Amzil; three points each by Kobe Elvis and R.J. Blakney; and two points by Malachi Smith.
Smith had eight of his career-high 13 assists during the stretch.
“Sometimes when you see the ball go in, especially if you’re a shooter, things kind of open up,” Grant said. “I thought Malachi did a really good job of putting guys in position to play to their strengths, and that’s so important when you have guys that are able to just play to their strengths and guys that are able to help their teammates play to their strengths. It makes the game so much easier when guys understand their roles and understand who they are.”
2. The Flyers continue to dominate the series against Richmond: Dayton won nine straight games against Richmond before losing 68-64 in the A-10 tournament semifinals on March 12.
“We knew last year we lost (to Richmond) in the A-10 tournament, so we had been waiting for this for a long time,” Smith said.
Richmond has now lost six straight games at UD Arena since a 70-61 victory in January 2011.
3. Dayton still has a chance at winning the A-10 regular-season championship: St. Bonaventure (11-11, 5-4) ended Virginia Commonwealth’s run of recent dominance Saturday, winning 61-58 in Richmond. VCU had won six games in a row, a streak that included a 63-62 victory in Dayton.
The loss dropped VCU (16-6, 7-2) into second place behind Saint Louis (15-6, 7-1), which won 74-70 at Davidson on Friday.
Dayton still has one more game against VCU on Feb. 7 in Richmond, Va., and it has two games against Saint Louis: Feb. 10 at UD Arena; and March 3 in St. Louis.
STAR OF THE GAME
Brea tied his career-best performance from 3-point range. He made 6 of 7 against St. Bonaventure last season. He ended a short slump that saw him make 2 of 11 3-pointers in losses to George Washington and Rhode Island. He leads the team in 3-pointers made (30 of 68) and 3-point percentage (44.1).
STAT OF THE GAME
Dayton made a season-high 14 of 27 3-pointers (52%). The Flyers topped 50% for the first time. Their previous best performance (10 of 20, 50%) came against Saint Joseph’s in a 76-56 victory on Jan. 4.
Dayton plays A-10 newcomer Loyola Chicago (7-13, 1-7) at 9 p.m. Tuesday at UD Arena. The Ramblers sit alone in last place. They lost their last game 72-58 at Duquesne on Wednesday and did not have a game this weekend.
The Flyers beat the Loyola Ramblers nine times in 12 Midwestern Collegiate Conference matchups in five seasons between 1988 and 1993. The programs haven’t played since. This will be the first of two matchups this season. Dayton plays at Loyola on Feb. 17.
Loyola Chicago at Dayton, 9 p.m., CBS Sports Network, 1290, 95.7
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