Dayton Flyers ‘not tough enough defensively’ in loss to St. Bonaventure

Dayton’s Red Scare student section took out their frustration on the St. Bonaventure bench as the final seconds ticked off the clock.

“NIT! NIT! NIT!” they chanted at the Bonnies.

The Bonnies may still have some work to do to make the NCAA tournament, but they looked deserving of an invitation to March Madness on Saturday, upsetting the No. 15/13 Dayton Flyers 79-72 at UD Arena.

A 3-pointer by Jaylen Adams, who scored 31 points and played all 40 minutes, broke a 70-70 tie with 36 seconds to play. Adams sealed St. Bonaventure’s first victory in Dayton since 2002 and only its second in 12 attempts with four free throws in the final seconds.

Dayton’s streaks of 77 games without back-to-back losses and 20 straight Atlantic 10 home victories ended. It might fall out of the top 25 a week after earning its highest ranking since 1967. A team that seemed to be peaking after a 98-64 victory at George Mason two weeks ago and then two-point victories over Duquesne and Rhode Island looks lost in the last week of February.

With four games left in the regular season, Dayton (21-5, 11-3) shares second place with St. Joseph’s (22-5, 11-3). The Hawks lost 99-93 at Davidson on Saturday. Virginia Commonwealth (20-7, 12-2) owns a one-game lead over the Flyers and Hawks.

“It’s the first time in a while we’ve had to deal with something like this, which is back-to-back (losses) and also losing at home in conference,” Dayton coach Archie Miller said. “Now everyone’s going to say, ‘Let’s see what they’re made of.’ We’re going to find out what we’re made of.”

Three days after losing 79-70 at St. Joseph’s, Dayton came out flat. The Bonnies suffered their own tough loss Wednesday, 71-64 at last-place La Salle, but showed no ill effects. They built a 15-5 lead in the first four minutes, making 6 of their first eight shots from the field.

“I thought they played fantastic,” Miller said. “Right out of the gate, they set the tone. They had a swagger about them. In particular, Jaylen Adams just has an unbelievable way of playing. He’s one of the best guards I’ve coached against. To do what he’s able to do and never come out of the game is incredible.”

The Bonnies, the second-best 3-point shooting team in the conference in A-10 games (38.2 percent), made 10 of 20 3-pointers. Adams made 5 of 9.

“We fought uphill most of the game,” Miller said. “At the end of the day, we’re just not tough enough defensively. That’s the sad thing about it. We’ve done so well and worked so hard to become a good defensive team and a program. To not play hard enough today is disappointing.”

Dayton made 5 of 21 3-pointers (23.8 percent). It was their worst shooting performance from behind the arc in a home game. Charles Cooke led the Flyers with 22 points but made 2 of 8 3-pointers and missed his last five field-goal attempts.

“Obviously, we took another loss,” Cooke said. “It wasn’t in our plans at all. We’re going to bounce back and get back off the mat. Obviously, we’re all upset right now, but we’ve just got to keep working and progressing to get better.”

In Other News