Anthony Grant might need to say this more than a few times this season.
“You have to go through this type of stuff in a championship season,” Grant said.
That was Grant’s message to the Dayton Flyers in the locker room Friday after they overcame a 13-point deficit in the second half to beat Saint Louis 78-76 in overtime at Chaifetz Arena. It also would have worked Jan. 5 when Dayton overcame a seven-point deficit in the second half to win 80-67 at Saint Joseph’s.
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Twice in the first five Atlantic 10 Conference games, Dayton has flirted with defeat only to emerge victorious and look better because of it. However, 13 A-10 games remain, and many will test the No. 7 Flyers (16-2, 5-0). A challenging five-game stretch with five matchups against teams in the top seven in the standings continues at 7 p.m. Wednesday when St. Bonaventure (12-6, 4-1) visits UD Arena.
Here are six things to know about the Bonnies and Flyers going into this game:
1. St. Bonaventure will try to put its worst loss of the season behind them: VCU routed St. Bonaventure 91-63 on Saturday in Richmond, Va. The Bonnies shot 16.7 percent (3 of 18) from 3-point range. It was their worst performance since their first two games of the season when they shot below 16 percent in losses to Ohio and Vermont.
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VCU, which lost 79-65 at Dayton four days earlier in part because of a 22-0 run by the Flyers, took control with an 18-0 run agains the Bonnies.
“Early on, we missed a lot of layups, open jump shots and then it just snowballed on us,” St. Bonaventure coach Mark Schmidt told the Olean Times Herald. “We didn’t do a good job defensively. They took us off the bounce; they were going downhill all night. Part of it was our offense, we couldn’t score so now they’re out in the open court, and the game was over at halftime.”
2. Health could be an issue for St. Bonaventure: The team’s third-leading scorer and top rebounder, Osun Osunniyi, missed the VCU game because of concussion-like symptoms.
3. This is one of the youngest teams in the country: The Bonnies rank 330th out of 353 teams in experience. It’s one of four A-10 teams that rank 300 or below, and Dayton already has played the other three: No. 300 Saint Louis; No. 302 Saint Joseph’s; and No. 342 Massachusetts. Dayton has also beaten the A-10’s most experienced team: VCU, which ranks 33rd in experience.
Osunniyi and guard Kyle Lofton each made the A-10 all-rookie team a year ago. The team’s top seven scorers are freshmen or sophomores.
4. The Bonnies overcame a slow start this season: They started 1-4 but have won 10 of their last 12. Their resume is a bit confusing. They beat Rutgers in their fourth game, and Rutgers has turned into one of the Big Ten’s best teams, ranking 18th in the NCAA Evaluation Tool. On each side of that game, the Bonnies lost to Sienna and Canisius, which rank 213th and 215th in the NET, respectively.
In its first five A-10 games, St. Bonaventure has beaten four teams with four league victories between them: George Washington (8-10, 2-3); George Mason (12-6, 1-4); Massachusetts (7-11, 1-4); and Fordham (6-11, 0-5).
5. Dayton has several slumping shooters: Starters Ryan Mikesell and Rodney Chatman have combined to make 3 of 21 3-pointers in A-10 play. Reserves Jhery Matos and Dwayne Cohill have combined to miss all eight of their attempts.
Dayton is shooting 32.1 percent from long range in conference games after shooting 39 percent in 13 non-conference games. On the season, Dayton is shooting 37.2 percent, four points above the national average (33.2).
6. Two of Dayton’s streaks ended Friday: For the first time this season, Dayton trailed at halftime, 33-25, against Saint Louis. The Flyers had led or were tied at the half in their first 17 games.
» SUNDAY FEATURE: What the win at SLU did for UD
Saint Louis also became the first team since Indiana State in the season opener to lose to Dayton by fewer than 10 points. Of course, Dayton still got the victory, its third in a seven-day stretch.
“We took some hits, but our guys stayed together,” Grant said. “I was proud of the resilience and the resolve we showed to be able to do that on the road in that environment against a team that had a week to prepare for us.”
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