Brea’s ‘unseen hours’ in gym pay off on career night at UD Arena

Flyers are on a roll with four straight victories heading into game at George Mason

The Dayton Flyers’ 68-50 victory against Saint Bonaventure on Tuesday would be known as the Kobe Brea Game if DaRon Holmes II hadn’t matched him with 20 points, if Malachi Smith hadn’t recorded a career-high 12 assists and if Kobe Elvis hadn’t made four straight 3-pointers for the second straight game.

Brea, a second-year guard, hit his career high with 20 points by making 6 of 7 3-pointers. The game came out of nowhere if you consider he hadn’t scored more than 13 points in a game in his two seasons but not if you consider how much time’s spent working on his shot.

“It’s just the hours I’ve put into this,” Brea said after the game, “the unseen hours. I work really hard. It was the perfect opportunity to show that.”

Dayton coach Anthony Grant called Brea, who’s now averaging 6.9 points per game, a gym rat.

“He wants to be a really good player,” Grant said. “He was certainly due. He’s that type of player who’s capable of doing what he did tonight from an offensive standpoint. I think he’s one of the one of the better shooters in our league. His teammates did a really good job tonight of understanding that he and Kobe Elvis had it going. It was great to see the ball movement. We did a good job of making the extra pass and sharing the ball tonight.”

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Brea’s performance helped Dayton (12-6, 4-1) win its fourth game in a row. It’s the second four-game winning streak in Atlantic 10 Conference play in Grant’s five seasons. The 2019-20 team, of course, won 18 games in a row in the league. The Flyers will try to improve to 3-0 on the road in the A-10 when they play George Mason (7-7, 0-1) at 7 p.m. Saturday in Fairfax, Va.

Dayton sits alone in second place, one game behind Davidson (15-2, 5-0), almost a third of the way through the A-10 schedule. Here are three ways the Flyers have won their last four games:

1. Cutting down on turnovers: After turning the ball over 18 times in the first game in the winning streak, an 83-58 victory at George Washington, the Flyers have reduced their turnover numbers in three straight games: 12 against Saint Louis, 10 against Duquesne; and nine against St. Bonaventure.

Toumani Camara, who leads Dayton with 53 turnovers, has two in the last three games. He had no turnovers — the second time in 18 games he has not recorded a turnover — against St. Bonaventure.

Dayton’s consistency in the four games has shown up in the improved turnover numbers.

“I think every game again has a life of its own, but I think we’ve done a really good job of understanding the scouting report, which is critical,” Grant said. “I think we’ve brought good energy, which is critical. And I think I’m seeing improvement with us taking care of the basketball. That’s helping us offensively as well.”

2. Shooting well from outside: Dayton shot 27.9 percent (19 of 68) from 3-point range in the four-game stretch prior to this winning streak. In the last four games, it has shot 48.5 percent (33 of 68).

Some of that has to do with Brea (29 of 73, 39.7) and Elvis (21 of 48, 43.8), the team’s best 3-point shooters, taking more shots. They combined for two attempts in the 53-52 loss to VCU and four in the 76-68 loss at Mississippi. They’re 22 of 35 (62.9 percent) in the last four games.

Extra shooting sessions at the Cronin Center have helped Brea.

“It’s something that has always been in me,” he said. “I love working. I just feel like I want to contribute a little more to the team, and so I guess this is the way the best way for me to do that.”

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3. Shutting down the opposing offense: Four of Dayton’s five A-10 opponents haven’t reached 60 points. Saint Louis scored 63. In conference-only stats, Dayton leads the A-10 in scoring defense (55.2).

A-10 opponents are shooting 38.1 percent against Dayton. That’s the second-best mark in the conference.

Dayton’s interior defense has played a big part on its success. The 6-foot-10 Holmes had three blocks against the Bonnies and altered many more despite playing against one of the A-10′s most experienced big men, St. Bonaventure senior Osun Ossuniyi.


Dayton at George Mason, 7 p.m., MASN, 1290, 95.7

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