Dayton senior Devin Oliver slammed the basketball off the court in frustration Wednesday. Behind him, Saint Joseph celebrated a last-second victory, mobbing the hero, Langston Galloway, at center court at UD Arena.
A banked 3-pointer, of all things, coming 25 days after the Flyers won in similar fashion on a shot by Oliver at Ole Miss, delivered the latest blow to a season that has gone from bad to worse to nightmarish.
Dayton erased a 15-point deficit in the second half to tie it on its last possession only to lose 60-57 moments later on Galloway’s shot with 1.8 seconds left.
The Flyers (13-8, 1-5 Atlantic 10) have lost four straight games, and for the first time since 1994-95, when they played in the Great Midwest Conference, they have lost their first three home conference games.
“It’s getting to the point where I don’t even know what to say anymore,” Oliver said. “I don’t know how that continually happens to us. What can you do? We’ve got another game on Saturday. It’s not like the season stops.
“I think we let up there for a minute there in the second half, and they hit us with a couple punches. We responded. We fought our way back. It’s just so disheartening to see a bank-shot 3 go in when we fought all the way back.”
Dayton played one of its strongest defensive halves in the first half, building a 25-20 halftime lead. The Hawks (14-6, 4-2) shot 27 percent in the first half. They relied on the 3-pointer and shot 3-of-13 from long range.
Saint Joseph’s turned it around in the second half. It attempted only four 3-pointers, making three. The Hawks shot 11-of-15 inside the arc and shot 74 percent from the field in the second half. Galloway scored 12, and Chris Wilson led the Hawks with 15 points.
After Dayton stretched its lead to 27-20 on a layup by Jordan Sibert to start the second half, the Hawks went on a 27-5 run and led 47-32 with 10:07 left.
“(Saint Joseph’s) really played intelligently,” Dayton coach Archie Miller said. “They really changed the style of the game from a 3-point shooting game in the first half. They went inside. Their percentages in the second half were hard to overcome.”
The Flyers shot 38 percent from the field and were outscored 24-18 in the paint. Sibert (21 points on 7-of-15 shooting) and Oliver (16 points on 5-of-10 shooting) kept the Flyers going offensively.
Dyshawn Pierre had nine points, including the game-tying layup with 11 seconds left.
“Defensively, they had a really good game plan against us,” Miller said. “They really packed the paint. They made things tough around the basket. I think it frustrated us a little bit. I give our kids credit. When you’re down 15 with 10 to go at home, that doesn’t feel good. That was good for our basketball team to fight.”
No one was surprised the shot went in, just over the outstretched hand of Pierre. It was similar to the shot Southern California’s Pe’Shon Howard hit to beat the Flyers in overtime on Dec. 22.
“We’ve been preaching just playing hard this whole week,” Oliver said. “It’s a cliche — the basketball gods reward you — but I thought they were going to give us one this time. It happened to go in.”
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