Dayton at Saint Louis: 7 things to know about Tuesday’s game

Flyers are in third place entering final week of regular season

Credit: David Jablonski

Credit: David Jablonski

One member of the Flyer Faithful stood in the middle of the sea of scarves in the student section at Gentile Arena on Friday night in Chicago. She had painted half her face red and half blue. One arm was painted blue. The other was red. Her Chapel Blue T-shirt even matched the uniforms the Dayton Flyers wore against Loyola Chicago.

Dayton fans made up a respectable percentage of the sold-out crowd of 4,557 fans, though any “Let’s Go Flyers” chants were quickly drowned out by Ramblers fans. Anthony Grant’s former teammate Damon Goodwin was in the stands. Former Flyer Kevin Conrad, a Chicago native, sat behind the bench. Another UD great from Chicago, Kyle Davis, also attended the game.

Dayton had more support than most road teams playing at Loyola Chicago but still couldn’t find a way to beat a good team on its home court, a feat that has eluded it since a Nov. 29 victory at Southern Methodist.

To turn the page, Dayton, which dropped from No. 21 to No. 25 in this week’s Associated Press poll, will now have to beat a struggling team on a court where the Flyers themselves have had a hard time over the years. Dayton (22-6, 12-4) plays Saint Louis (11-18, 4-12) at 9 p.m. Tuesday at Chaifetz Arena in St. Louis. Following that is the regular-season finale against Virginia Commonwealth (19-10, 11-5) at 7 p.m. Friday at UD Arena.

Losing either of the games this week will add to the growing doubt among UD fans about the team’s chances of winning postseason games. The questionable status of starting point guard Javon Bennett, who injured his thumb in the first half Friday and missed the second half, adds to the unease the fanl feel, though the team continues to believe in itself.

“It’s about the big picture for us,” Dayton forward DaRon Holmes II said after the 77-72 loss Friday. “We definitely want to win the regular season, but that’s not the end goal for us. Dayton hasn’t been to the (NCAA) tournament in how long? We know we’re in good shape.”

Dayton won’t win the A-10 regular-season championship unless Richmond and Loyola falter in the final week in part because of its failures to win on the road but also because of the unbalanced conference schedule. Dayton has lost at first-place Richmond (22-7, 14-2) and second-place Loyola (21-8, 13-3). Neither play at UD Arena, where the Flyers are 14-0 this season.

The Flyers had the most success of any A-10 team in non-conference play. That’s why they’re considered a lock for a NCAA tournament at-large berth despite four A-10 road losses. They also had a chance to win each of the four games they lost on the road. That’s one reason they haven’t fallen much in the NCAA Evaluation Tool after losses.

“What our team has done is put itself in a position where it’s one of the top teams in the country,” Dayton coach Anthony Grant said. “What they’ve had to face, nobody else in the league has had to go through that. So I’m very proud of the group. We know every game is going to be highly contested. Every game is going to be a big game for us and a big game for our opponents. It’s a credit to our guys that they were able to take that challenge on all year. We’re going to regroup and get ready to finish strong here the last week of the regular season.”

Here are seven things to know about the game against Saint Louis:

1. Struggling opponent: The Billikens are on their way to their first losing season since 2016-17 when they were 12-21 in coach Travis Ford’s first season. Ford led the program to the A-10 tournament championship in 2019, and the program was a consistent winner, it not a NCAA tournament team, in the four seasons that followed.

This season took a dark turn after a 4-0 start. The Billikens haven’t won two games in a row since December. Ben Hochman, of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, wrote a column in January under the headline, “Saint Louis is bottoming out. It should be coach Travis Ford’s final season.”

Saint Louis is winless against the top seven teams in the conference. Its victories have come against Saint Joseph’s, La Salle, George Washington and Rhode Island. Three of the top-four teams in the A-10 won at Saint Louis: Loyola (80-73 on Jan. 3); VCU (95-85 on Feb. 16); and Richmond (80-64 on Feb. 28).

Dayton has already clinched a top-four seed but will have to avoid its worst loss of the season by beating a team that generated a bit of momentum with a 94-91 victory at Rhode Island (11-18, 5-11) on Saturday.

2. Series history: The Flyers won the first matchup 70-65 on Jan. 16 at UD Arena. Holmes led Dayton with 29 points and 14 rebounds. UD trailed 30-28 at halftime. In the second half, Dayton took the lead for good at the 15:57 mark and pushed its lead to 11 points with five minutes. Saint Louis get any closer than five points after that point.

Dayton lost 65-61 in its last visit to Saint Louis in the final game of the regular season a year ago. Two years ago, Dayton lost 72-61 at Saint Louis. The Flyers swept the season series in 2020 and 2021.

3. Standings update: Richmond stayed on top of the A-10 with a 79-76 victory at home against VCU (19-10, 11-5) on Saturday. The Spiders can clinch a share of the regular-season championship, which they have never won, with one more victory. They play a home game against Saint Joseph’s (18-11, 8-8) on Wednesday and close the regular season at George Mason (18-11, 7-9) on Saturday.

Second-place Loyola plays at Davidson on Wednesday and then plays La Salle in Chicago on Saturday.

Dayton most likely will get a No. 3 seed in the A-10 tournament even if it wins its last two games. If it’s the No. 3 seed, it will play in the quarterfinals at 7:30 p.m. on March 14 at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y. If it falls to the No. 4 seed, it will play at 2 p.m. that day.

Credit: David Jablonski

Credit: David Jablonski

4. Players to watch: Gibson Jimerson, a 6-foot-5, fifth-year guard, scored a season-high 30 points on 8-of-18 shooting against Rhode Island. He made 4 of 8 3-pointers. He averages 15 points per game and scored 13 in the first game against Dayton.

• Sincere Parker, a 6-3 third-year guard, scored 16 points against Rhode Island after missing the previous two games with a foot injury. He injured his shoulder in the second half, according to a report on the Saint Louis website, and did not return. He scored 30 or more points three games in a row earlier this season against La Salle, Saint Joseph’s and VCU. He leads the team with 15.5 points per game in league play.

• Terrence Hargrove Jr., a 6-4 fifth-year forward, averages 12.7 points.

• Bradley Ezewiro, a 6-8 third-year forward, averages 12.4 points and leads the team with 6.2 rebounds.

5. Strengths and weaknesses: Saint Louis has averaged 75.5 points in A-10 play. That’s second behind Saint Joseph’s (75.7). Dayton ranks sixth (73.5).

Saint Louis ranks 14th out of 15 points in scoring defense (82.5). Dayton ranks first (64.6).

6. Odds and rankings: gives Dayton an 85% chance of winning this game. Dayton ranks 21st in the NCAA Evaluation Tool. No. 224 Saint Louis is the lowest-ranked A-10 team.

This is a Quadrant 3 game for Dayton because it’s a road game against a team that ranks between 136 and 240. Dayton is 3-4 in Quad 1, 5-2 in Quad 2, 7-0 in Quad 3 and 7-0 in Quad 4.

This is a Quad 1 game for Saint Louis. It is 0-3 in Quad 1 with losses to Dayton, Drake and VCU.

7. NCAA tournament picture: Dayton has an average seed of 5.69 on All 90 brackets included on the website have the Flyers in the tournament.

ESPN’s Joe Lunardi lists Dayton as a No. 6 seed playing No. 11 seed South Florida in Pittsburgh in his latest prediction. Jerry Palm, of CBS Sports, has Dayton as a No. 8 seed playing No. 9 Oklahoma in Indianapolis.


Dayton at Saint Louis, 9 p.m., CBS Sports Network, 95.7, 1290

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