Camara: ‘It’s just up from here’ for Flyers

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Dayton Flyers highlights: Game-opening 22-4 run vs. Alabama State on Dec. 1, 2021

UD delivers its most dominant performance of the season in rout of Alabama State

The Dayton Flyers finally looked at home Wednesday. For the first time this season, they could have put their feet up on the couch and relaxed — at least if UD Arena had a living room.

Eleven days after hitting rock bottom with an 87-81 loss at home to Austin Peay, Dayton’s season continued on its upward trajectory with a 93-54 victory against Alabama State at UD Arena. The Flyers (5-3) beat a team they were supposed to beat — one that ranks 338th out of 354 teams in the Ken Pomeroy ratings — and that was a story in itself because that didn’t happen the last time three times they played at home.

“We always want to make the fans proud about our team and the way we play and want to represent the Dayton community,” Dayton forward Toumani Camara said. “It’s definitely something that was important for us, and being able to come here to him and show what we’re capable of I think it was really important.”

This was not the type of victory — no matter the margin — that will get Dayton into the Associated Press top 25. The Flyers didn’t get a vote this week despite their victories against the University of Miami, No. 4 Kansas and Belmont last weekend at the ESPN Events Invitational. Those three victories were not enough to erase the losses to UMass Lowell, Lipscomb and Austin Peay.

If Dayton can follow this victory against Alabama State with another home victory Saturday against Northern Illinois ands then beat Southern Methodist on the road Dec. 8 and Virginia Tech at home Dec. 12, they might catch the eye of the voters. One national college basketball writer, Andy Katz, did put them in the top 25 this week, though it’s just his list and not the national poll. That alone is a sign of how far Dayton has come in a short time.

Explore» PHOTOS: Dayton vs. Alabama State

Now it’s just a matter of staying consistent, building a resume and avoiding any more setbacks.

“We’re still young,” Camara said. “We have so much to learn. I’m new to the program, too. It was a new system and everything, so I think it’s great it finally seems like everything’s starting to click and everything’s starting to make sense and go the right way. So it’s just up from here.”

Dayton (5-3) started the game against Alabama State (2-7) with an 18-2 run in the first 10 minutes. The Hornets trailed by double digits the rest of the way.

Dayton dominated in points off turnovers (26-9), points in the paint (36-18), second-chance points (24-11) and fast-break points (28-6). Dayton hit its season high in points while matching its fewest points allowed.

Camara led Dayton with 16 points. Kobe Elvis and Malachi Smith each scored 15 points. Smith also had seven rebounds in five assists as he continued to play well following his MVP performance in Florida. He was also named the Atlantic 10 Conference Rookie of the Week on Monday.

Elvis started in the place of Elijah Weaver, who did not play because of a disciplinary reason, coach Anthony Grant said. Other than Weaver and forward Richard Amaefule, who Grant said may redshirt because he’s not fully recovered from the foot injury he suffered two years ago, everyone on the bench saw action. Walk-on Brady Uhl, a third-generation Flyer, received the biggest ovation when he got on the court for the last 25 seconds.

Freshman forward Kaleb Washington, the last member of the highly-ranked 2021 recruiting class who had not played, also made his Dayton debut. He scored two points at the free-throw line in just short of five minutes of action.

All in all, this was just the type of performance Dayton needed to avoid a letdown three days after a 63-61 victory against Belmont in the ESPN Events Invitational championship game.

“I thought tonight we put together two really good halves on the defensive end,” Grant said. “In the first half, I love the way we started. We had a lull there where we had some breakdowns defensively, and they were able to trim a 20-point lead to 13 at the half. I thought the way we started the second half was excellent. The guys were able to sustain the defensive intensity throughout the second half, which is progress. I thought overall we did a really good job today.”

Tickets available: UD announced Thursday a limited number of tickets designated for students have been returned and are now available for purchase on Ticketmaster.com. Tickets are on sale for the games against Southern on Dec. 21, St. Bonaventure on Jan. 2 and VCU on Jan. 5. For more info, call the ticket office at (937) 229-4433.

SATURDAY’S GAME

Northern Illinois at Dayton, 2 p.m., Bally Sports Ohio, 1290, 95.7

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Anthony Grant press conference: Dec. 1, 2021

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Toumani Camara interview: Dec. 1, 2021

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Kobe Elvis interview: Dec. 1, 2021

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