Battle 4 Atlantis: Loss denies Dayton third game against Kansas in four years

Flyers rally from 10-point deficit in second half but lose in final seconds

NASSAU, Bahamas — One year after a magical finish in the Magic Kingdom, the Dayton Flyers couldn’t pull a Houdini-like escape Wednesday in the first round of the Battle 4 Atlantis.

Wisconsin guard Max Klesmit blocked a shot by Dayton guard Kobe Elvis with three seconds left. The ball bounced out of bounds. Dayton was left with one second on the shot clock. Elvis could not get a 3-point shot off from the corner in time.

Dayton (3-2) lost 43-42 to Wisconsin (4-0) at Imperial Arena at the Atlantis Paradise Island resort in the first meeting between the two programs since 1961.

“We were trying to get Elvis downhill on the drive,” Dayton coach Anthony Grant said of the final possession. “He was having success getting to the rim. We hoped we could get to the rim for either either a basket opportunity or to get to the free throw line.”

Dayton will play North Carolina State (4-1) at 4 p.m. Thursday on the second day of the tournament. The game will air on ESPNews. N.C. State lost 80-74 to No. 3 Kansas in the first game Wednesday. Kansas will play Wisconsin at 11 a.m. in the first semifinal.

Explore» PHOTOS: Dayton vs. Wisconsin

Dayton’s loss prevented it from playing Kansas for the third time in four years in a November tournament. Last year, Dayton beat Kansas 74-73 on a last-second shot by Mustapha Amzil, who grabbed a loose ball in the corner after Malachi Smith had his shot blocked at the rim.

This time, Dayton didn’t get that lucky bounce. The finish prevented it from taking a lead for the first time since the opening minutes. Dayton scored only 14 points in the first half thanks to 10 turnovers and 2-of-16 shooting from long range.

In the second half, the Flyers trailed by as many as 10 points, but they topped their first-half points total in the first eight minutes. Turnovers still hurt. The Flyers, who had 24 turnovers in their previous loss at UNLV, finished with 17. Wisconsin had 10. That’s one reason the Badgers took six more shots and won the game despite shooting 23.7% from the field and 22.2% (6 of 27) from 3-point range.

Dayton shot 30.2% from the field and 14.8% (4 of 27) from 3-point range. Amzil made 3 of 6. The rest of the team made 1 of 21. Elvis made 1 of 7.

Despite those numbers, Dayton tied the game for the first time on a 3-pointer by Amzil with 4:56 to play but then gave up a 3-point play on the other end.

Dayton had another chance to tie the game with 59 seconds to play. DaRon Holmes just missed a shot at the rim and was fouled on the play. He made 1 of 2 free throws to cut the deficit to 43-42.

Dayton got a stop after cutting the deficit to one point when Toumani Camara blocked a shot by Steven Crowl with 32 seconds left.

Dayton brought the ball across the half-court line. Grant called a timeout with 24 seconds left. Elvis got the ball at that point and tried to drive to the basket but threw the ball back to Malachi Smith, who passed to the corner to DaRon Holmes II. At that point, with the offense struggling to find a look, Grant called another timeout.

That led to the final play by Elvis, who led Dayton with 16 points on 7-of-17 shooting.

“I’m disappointed at the result but not with the fight and resolve and resiliency we showed tonight,” Grant said. “I’m proud of the effort. In the first half, we couldn’t really get in the rhythm from an offensive standpoint. I thought we got some good looks, but they didn’t go in. At the end of the day, it comes down to being able to make shots, and we weren’t able to do that consistently enough tonight, but our defense was outstanding. Guys really battled. We always talk about being able to play well when shots don’t go in, and I thought guys show resiliency and it gave us a chance. A one-possession game down the stretch with the ball, I couldn’t ask for anything more on a night where we didn’t necessarily have a great ball security. Seventeen turnovers in the game were costly.”

THURSDAY’S GAME

Dayton vs. N.C. State, 4 p.m., ESPNews, 1290, 95.7

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