Dayton Flyers travel across the country to play their toughest game

Flyers get rematch with Saint Mary’s one year after 61-57 loss

The Dayton Flyers traveled 2,384 miles to play their 11th and most difficult game of the season.

It has been years since Dayton has been this big an underdog in a game. gives the Flyers (5-5) a 16 percent chance Tuesday of beating Saint Mary’s (9-2) at McKeon Pavilion in Moraga, Calif.

The Gaels beat Dayton 61-57 a season ago at UD Arena. They return three starters — including their leading scorer, 6-foot-11 senior center Jock Landale — and three other players who appeared in that game.

“We’ve got a lot of respect for Saint Mary’s and the program they’ve had and the success they’ve enjoyed,” Dayton coach Anthony Grant said.

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Saint Mary’s has won 29 games in back-to-back seasons and has appeared in the NCAA tournament six times in the past 13 seasons. As usual, the Gaels lean heavily on Australians. They have six players, including three of their top five scorers, from the country on the roster.

The Flyers started their journey west Saturday night after beating Georgia State 88-83 in overtime at UD Arena. They bused to Cincinnati, stayed in a hotel overnight and caught a direct flight in the morning to San Francisco. Moraga is 13 miles east of Oakland.

On Sunday, Dayton worked out at Saint Mary’s and started adjusting to the three-hour time change. The game will start at 7 p.m. local time. Dayton fans will have to stay up until 10 p.m. to see the game begin.

Will the wait be worth it? Dayton had a chance to beat Mississippi State in its first true road game, losing 61-59 on a last-second shot. Its second true road game provides a stiffer test. The Flyers have not beaten anyone who ranks higher than No. 118 in the Pomeroy ratings. Saint Mary's ranks 39th.

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The Gaels are 6-0 at home and have won five of those games by double digits. Only their most recent home game was close. They beat UC Irvine 73-66 on Saturday.

“Saint Mary’s is going to be a very tough game for us,” Darrell Davis said. “Last year we lost to them at home, but if we come out with the mentality we had (Saturday against Georgia State), I feel we have a chance to win the game.’

Last season Saint Mary’s led Dayton by as many as 20 points in the second half before the Flyers staged a late rally. Dayton trailed 59-57 when Kyle Davis stole the ball with 16 seconds to play. Xeyrius Williams then was called for a charge as drove to the basket for what could have been the tying score. The Gaels clinched the victory with two free throws by Emmett Naar with seven seconds remaining.

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Dayton played that game without two key injured players: Kendall Pollard and Josh Cunningham. Darrell Davis, John Crosby and Xeyrius Williams are the only current Flyers who played against Saint Mary’s.

Dayton should go into this game healthy. Williams returned to action Saturday and scored two points in 13 minutes. He missed the previous five games with a back injury.

“It was great to see him back out there knocking off the rust,” Grant said. “It had been four weeks since he’s been on the court. We were able to get two days of intense practice to get him back in the fold a little bit. Hopefully, going forward, there will be no setbacks and we will continue to progress with him.”


Dayton at St. Marys, 10 p.m., Fox Sports Ohio, AM 1290, News 95.7 WHIO

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