A fan called to veteran official Ted Valentine — or TV Teddy as he’s often called — from the stands Tuesday at UD Arena.
“Retire, Teddy,” the fan said.
“Not a chance,” Valentine said.
After the fan made a remark about Valentine needing glasses, Valentine responded by saying, “How many Final Fours have you been to? I’ve done 10.”
Valentine doesn’t need the stage of a Final Four to find excitement. During Dayton’s 85-81 overtime victory against Loyola, he stepped in between Loyola forward Tom Welch and Dayton forward DaRon Holmes II. Welch fouled Holmes on a shot attempt. Their arms got entangled. Then they pushed each other. Mustapha Amzil shoved Welch in the back. Holmes ran at Welch but stopped short.
Valentine entered the scene at that point and made the technical foul sign. After a review, Welch and Holmes received technical fouls. That resulted in an unusual sequence. Holmes shot two free throws because he was fouled on the shot attempt, making 1 of 2. Loyola’s Braden Norris shot the technical fouls for Loyola, making 2 of 2. Then Amzil made 2 of 2 technical free throws.
For a moment, the game turned into a free-throw shootout. All this took place at a crucial time as Dayton cut into an eight-point deficit. The Flyers got the ball back after the Amzil free throws and tied the game at 64-64 on a jump shot by Malachi Smith with 5:36 to play.
Smith made a go-ahead 3-pointer on the next possession a minute later. Dayton would push its lead to six points in the final minute only to have Loyola tie the game on a bank-shot 3-pointer by Philip Alston with 0.4 seconds remaining. The Flyers didn’t let that affect them in overtime and escaped with their first victory in a game decided by five points or fewer this season. They improved to 6-8 in overtime games in coach Anthony Grant’s six seasons.
Dayton won its previous game in a much different way, routing Richmond 86-60 on Saturday. It could gain just as much from this victory.
“I think that builds a level of toughness,” Dayton coach Anthony Grant said, “and that builds a level of confidence that you can (win these games). It’s always good to learn the lessons that the season brings over the course of the year, and this was a great opportunity to learn through winning.”
Dayton (15-8, 7-3) stayed in third place in the Atlantic 10 Conference with the victory. It trails first-place Virginia Commonwealth (17-6, 8-2) by one game and Saint Louis (15-7, 7-2) by a half game with eight games to play.
Loyola (7-14, 1-8) remains in last place in the A-10 in its first season in the conference but showed how thin the line between the contenders and everyone else is in the A-10.
VCU won 61-59 Tuesday at 13th-place Davidson, which played without leading scorer Foster Loyer. Davidson’s Desmond Watson missed a game-tying free throw with four seconds to play.
Saint Louis lost 75-65 at Fordham (18-4, 6-3) on Tuesday. Dayton won 82-58 in the same gym on Jan. 10.
Dayton avoided what would have been another low point in an up-and-down season by regrouping fast after the shot by Alston. Back-to-back baskets by Smith and DaRon Holmes II gave Dayton the lead for good in overtime. It clinched the victory by making 7 of 8 free throws in the final 90 seconds.
“I know we were really disappointed by the shot (by Alston) because nobody thought it would have went in,” Dayton forward Toumani Camara said, “but we just had the mentality that we get to play some more basketball tonight, so let’s stay positive. Let’s keep playing hard.”
While Dayton’s leading scorer on the season, Holmes, didn’t make his first field goal until the 43rd minute, Camara carried the Dayton offense with a career 31 points. He made 8 of 9 2-point field goals, 2 of 4 3-pointers and 9 of 11 free throws.
Camara had nine turnovers when he hit his previous career high of 27 points in the 63-62 loss to VCU on Jan. 10. He had only three turnovers in this game.
“Like I say every time, it can be anybody’s night on this team,” Camara said. “I went to the line 11 times. I was able to get easy buckets here and there by just being at the right spot at the right time. When Deuce (Holmes) is struggling and the main pieces are struggling, we need to find counters to that.”
Malachi Smith also stepped up with a career-high 21 points, eight assists and no turnovers. Kobe Elvis made 3 of 6 3-pointers and scored 13 points. He has made 11 of 19 3-pointers in four games since he returned from a knee injury. Mustapha Amzil added 11 points.
Dayton won the game by outscoring Loyola 23-10 at the free-throw line. That countered Loyola’s advantage behind the 3-point line. The Ramblers made 13 of 25 (52%).
Loyola forward Bryce Golden, who had made 3 of 13 3-pointers all season, made 3 of 4. Jacob Hutson, a 6-11 center who had made one 3-pointer all season, made his only attempt against Dayton. Jeameril Wilson, another forward, made a 3. He had made three in his first 12 appearances.
“The bigs impacted the game by hitting 3s,” Camara said. “It hurt us a lot. Scouting them, that was not really their game. It was a surprise.”
Loyola made 5 of 10 3s in the first half, 7 of 12 in the second half and 1 of 3 in overtime against a defense that ranks eighth in the country in 3-point percentage (28.2). The Flyers elected to not foul in the final seconds of the second half and prevent Loyola from taking a game-tying 3-pointer.
“We had one timeout left,” Grant said. “I debated whether to call it at that time to talk about whether or not we wanted to foul. If we were going to foul, it was going to be under five seconds. They had about 10.9 when they got it. Then we did a really good job of taking away pretty much every option they had, and at the last second, No. 4 (Norris) was able to find No. 23 (Alston) in the corner and he just rose up. I think it hit the corner of the backboard and went in. That’s basketball.”
Grant said the team hasn’t had enough time to practice fouling in end-of-game situations, and that’s why the players didn’t take it upon themselves to foul and prevent Loyola from taking a tying 3.
“We’ll have a chance to maybe learn some stuff from watching the film and talk about what we what we could do,” Grant said, “and hopefully at some point, we’ll be able to handle some of those situations in practice to get us better prepared.”
Dayton at St. Bonaventure, 8 p.m., ESPNU, 1290, 95.7
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