A sellout crowd at UD Arena watched Richmond’s ShawnDre’ Jones’ 3-pointer sail to the rim with seconds to play. If the force of collective will can bend a shot the wrong way, Jones had no chance.
The shot did miss, a crowd of 13,455 rejoiced and No. 22 Dayton survived its first nail-biter of the Atlantic 10 season, beating the Spiders 63-60 on Saturday.
It’s the 16th straight home victory for Dayton (16-3, 6-1). The Flyers have won nine of 10 games with their seven-man rotation.
“It was just a heck of an environment in there tonight,” Dayton coach Archie Miller said. “That’s why you come here. That’s why you want to play here. Our players responded with tremendous effort and courage.”
The Flyers bounced back from a 77-60 loss at Davidson on Tuesday. They trailed by double digits throughout the second half in that game and lost one day after entering the AP top 25 for the first time in the regular season since December 2013.
“It was a tough road loss at Davidson,” Dayton guard Kyle Davis said. “But we bounced back and got the win tonight.”
This victory keeps Dayton in second place in the A-1o, tied with George Washington (16-4, 6-1) and a half game behind Virginia Commonwealth (16-3, 6-0).
“It was a tough week coming off of Davidson,” Miller said. “Guys are banged up right now. To their credit, they’re finding a way.”
Dyshawn Pierre led the Flyers with 21 points. Kendall Pollard scored 14. Scoochie Smith had 10.
The Flyers led 37-27 at halftime on the strength of 68-percent shooting from the field (15 of 22) and 63-percent shooting from 3-point range (5 of 8). It was a different story in the second half when they shot 27 percent (6 of 22) from the field and 30 percent (3 of 10) from long range.
“It’s that way when you play against Richmond,” Miller said. “They do so many different things in terms of confusing you and switching you. You don’t get your normal looks.”
The Flyers led 46-37 at the 14:56 mark of the second half. Over the next eight minutes, they lost their rhythm on offense and let the Spiders get back into the game and then into the lead. Richmond (10-9, 3-3) surged ahead 51-48 with a 14-2 run.
Pollard ended the run with two free throws at the 6:30 mark. He hit two more free throws with 2:59 to go, tying the game at 55-55, and then hit a tough jumper in the paint with 2:16 left to give the Flyers the lead for good.
With 19 seconds left, Davis made the shot of the night, scoring on a reverse layup to give Dayton a 61-58 lead. The teams traded free throws on the next two possessions. Richmond got the ball last with 14 seconds left and missed the 3-pointer at the buzzer.
“Toward the end of the game, the last couple of minutes, that’s when players have to make plays,” Miller said. “I thought guys stepped up and did.”