Dayton Flyers vs. VCU Rams: History of a rivalry

The Dayton Flyers still had Xavier as a rival when Virginia Commonwealth joined the Atlantic 10 Conference in the 2012-13 season. A year later, though, Xavier was in the Big East Conference, and the Flyers had no true rival.

In 2015, when Dayton beat VCU on the road in a key game for its NCAA tournament resume and then lost to VCU in the A-10 championship game, it was clear the VCU series had become Dayton’s most important on the A-10 schedule. Dayton clinched regular-season titles by beating VCU on Senior Night two seasons in a row (2016 and 2017). The 2018 and 2019 seasons featured four memorable games.

Dayton swept the series in 2020. VCU did the same in 2021. They split two games in 2022. VCU handed Dayton another heartbreaking loss in the first of two games in the 2023 regular season. The teams meet again at 7 p.m. Tuesday at the Siegel Center in Richmond, Va.

Here’s a look back at all those games.

Jan. 9, 2013 (Siegel Center): VCU 74, Dayton 62

Storyline: This was VCU’s first season in the A-10 after a move from the Colonial Athletic Association and its first game against Dayton since a four-game series between 1983 and 1986. VCU won three of those meetings.

What we wrote: No. 24 VCU wore black shooting shirts during warm-ups with one word stitched across the back: “Havoc.” And Dayton doesn’t have to be told why that’s become the Rams’ team motto.

Facing suffocating full-court pressure, the Flyers committed an untidy 26 turnovers and dropped their Atlantic 10 opener, 74-62, before a boisterous sellout crowd of 7,693 Wednesday.

UD rebounded with fury (finishing with a 39-27 edge), knocked down 3-pointers (9-for-21) and took away the Rams’ 3-point attack, one of their chief weapons (5-for-20). But the turnover travails were too much to overcome.

“Our team is accustomed to playing hard. We’re not always perfect. But at the end of the day, we were here to battle,” UD coach Archie Miller said. “If we were a little more clean with the turnovers and maybe hit the front end of some 1-and-1′s late in the second half to get that thing from nine or seven to six or four, the game’s a little bit different. I thought our kids stuck with the game plan, (and) we gave great effort … but we just turned it over too many times.”

Credit: David Jablonski

Credit: David Jablonski

Jan. 22, 2014 (UD Arena): VCU 80, Dayton 66

Storyline: The Flyers needed a victory after a 1-2 start in A-10 play. This was the first game against the Flyers at UD Arena for Shaka Smart, UD’s former director of basketball operations, as VCU’s head coach.

What we wrote: As the final minutes ticked away Wednesday, a cold breeze drifted down to Tom Blackburn Court. So many fans filed early for the exits, the chill of January invaded the comfy confines of UD Arena.

By that time, the temperature outside had dipped to about 10 degrees. Virginia Commonwealth had nothing to do with that but everything to do with how cold the crowd of 12,512 felt after seeing the Flyers lose 80-66.

The Rams forced 18 turnovers, shot 49 percent from the field and dominated the Flyers for most of the 40 minutes. It was the type of game that makes everyone who voted in the Atlantic 10 preseason poll look like sages. VCU was picked to win it all, and the Flyers were picked seventh.

For now, after losing two straight games, Dayton (13-6, 1-3) is just a game out of last place.

“We just got put on our butts,” Dayton senior Devin Oliver said. “We didn’t quit at all, by any teams, but we didn’t respond like we should have.”

Feb. 28, 2015 (Siegel Center): Dayton 59, VCU 55

Storyline: Dayton needed a victory to pad its NCAA tournament resume and stay in contention for the A-10 regular-season title. The Flyers entered the game with four losses in their last five A-10 road games.

What we wrote: Jordan Sibert left the Siegel Center with a bag of ice wrapped around his wrist. Two bags of ice clung to Kendall Pollard’s knees. Darrell Davis walked away with only one iced knee.

Held together by the training staff and coaches and sometimes seemingly by magic — not to mention duct tape, string and whatever else keeps a team like this afloat 28 games into the season — the Dayton Flyers somehow found a way Saturday to play their best basketball at the perfect time. They lack numbers and height, but make up the deficit with a league-leading amount of heart.

How else could you explain a 59-55 victory over No. 22 Virginia Commonwealth?

“It’s the right time to play this type of basketball,” sophomore point guard Scoochie Smith said. “We played hard. March starts tomorrow.”

March 15, 2015 (Brooklyn, N.Y.): VCU 71, Dayton 65

Storyline: The Flyers returned to the A-10 championship game for the first time since 2011, seeking their second tournament title and first outside their own arena.

What we wrote: Briante Weber, the fallen leader of Virginia Commonwealth, stood in the middle of the court crying tears of joys as he leaned on his crutches. His teammates found him and embraced him. A team on the cusp of an Atlantic 10 championship two years in a row finally ascended the ladders Sunday at the Barclays Center and cut down the net.

Walking past Weber and the jubilant Rams, as confetti rained, the Dayton Flyers showed little emotion. They wore blank faces with a touch of disappointment.

Bridesmaids again, just as they were in the regular season, the Flyers still had many reasons to be proud despite a 71-65 loss in a tension-filled tournament final.

“We’ve accomplished a lot,” Dayton senior Jordan Sibert said. “People didn’t think we would get this far. They doubted us as soon as we lost our players. I’m extremely proud of these guys. I know we’re all frustrated about the loss. Everyone wants to win. We never gave up and I wouldn’t trade these guys for anything.”



March 5, 2016 (UD Arena): Dayton 68, VCU 67 (OT)

Storyline: Dayton needed a victory on Senior Night to clinch a share of the A-10 regular-season championship with VCU and St. Bonaventure.

What we wrote: Dayton basketball players don’t reveal much on social media. That’s probably a good thing, especially when you’re playing for a coach who talks all the time about eliminating the noise from the outside world.

However, the Flyers couldn’t resist celebrating their 68-67 overtime victory over Virginia Commonwealth on Saturday night at UD Arena by sharing their experiences.

Junior guard Kyle Davis, who hit the go-ahead shot with 16 seconds left in overtime, posted a photo to Instagram of himself wearing an Atlantic 10 championship T-shirt and paid tribute to his late grandma and aunt. He wrote, “I know y’all couldn’t physically be here, but I know y’all were watching over us tonight.”

Senior forward Dyshawn Pierre and junior point guard Scoochie Smith, who scored a career-high 29 points, shared a video of coach Archie Miller entering the locker room after the game with the net the Flyers had just cut down. The players danced around Miller as he held the net in the air.

Not long after, Smith, Pierre and Davis talked to reporters in the postgame press conference. Davis dumped a bottle of water on Smith’s head as he left the room. Smith had just played the game of his life and carried the Flyers to a share of their first A-10 title — UD, VCU and St. Bonaventure all finished 14-4 — since they won the West Division in 2004.

Jan 27, 2017 (Siegel Center): VCU 73, Dayton 68

Storyline: The Flyers were off to a 6-1 start in conference play and had won three games in a row.

What we wrote: A Virginia Commonwealth fan dressed as the late pop star Prince applauded the Dayton Flyers as they filed past the student section on the way to the locker room.

Prince liked the effort, though effort only gets you so far in a game like this. The Flyers lost 73-68 Friday at the Siegel Center because they weren’t big enough or physical enough or tough enough under the basket.

VCU outscored Dayton 26-8 on second-chance points, taking advantage of an 18-8 offensive-rebound advantage and a 41-24 overall rebound margin.

“They did a really good job the last eight minutes of controlling the game by using the paint, whether that was with the post game and or their guards attacking and making us help,” Dayton coach Archie Miller said. “We just could not keep the ball off the glass. It was just too overwhelming in the last eight minutes.”

March 1, 2017 (UD Arena): Dayton 79, VCU 72

Storyline: Dayton needed a victory on Senior Night to win the A-10 title outright for the first time.

What we wrote: Senior Kyle Davis jumped onto the press-row table. Then he dove into the student section. He knew the drill. He celebrated an Atlantic 10 championship a year ago after a tense victory over Virginia Commonwealth. Now he did it again — only this one is so much sweeter because the Dayton Flyers will share it with no one.

» MORE ON GAME: Miller: ‘Very few people have what we have’

Dayton led from start to finish against VCU on Wednesday at UD Arena, but it was never easy and it wasn’t over until the final minutes when UD’s seniors stepped to the line and secured a 79-72 victory with free throws.

“This is about as proud as you can be of a team,” Dayton coach Archie Miller said.

» RELATED: University honors 1967 national runner-up squad

Dayton (24-5, 15-2) clinched its first outright A-10 title and its second title in a row — it shared the championship with VCU and St. Bonaventure last season — with a strong performance on offense and just enough defensive pressure in the final minutes to stop the Rams. The Flyers won in front of a sellout crowd of 13,455, breaking UD’s single-season average attendance mark.”It was incredible to play in front of these fans in this arena,” Miller said. “We’ve had it all year long. The attendance record being broken this year is telling. Playing for these type of stakes is what they deserve.”

Jan. 12, 2018 (UD Arena): Dayton 106, VCU 79

Storyline: Dayton’s record stood at 8-8 entering this game, and it needed a victory to record its first back-to-back wins of the season.

What we wrote: The weather outside was frightful. The roads were awful. UD Arena stood alone in a frozen wasteland Friday for the Dayton Flyers as a haven where all the shots fall through the net — well most of them — and dreams do come true, even elusive ones about winning two games in a row.

» ARCHDEACON: Gruden finally makes first field goal

Dayton looked like the young, scrappy and hungry team its fans hope to see on a more consistent basis and recorded its second victory of the season against a team picked to finish in the top four of the Atlantic 10, routing Virginia Commonwealth 106-79. Dayton set a school record with 66 points in the first half.

Seventeen games into Anthony Grant’s first season, the Flyers (9-8, 3-2) finally have a winning streak, and they have a winning record for the first time since Nov. 25.

» PHOTOS: Flyers hammer VCU

“I’m obviously proud of the effort our guys put forth tonight,” Grant said. “I thought from the start we played with great energy, great focus, great purpose. It’s great to look at the stat sheet and see the offensive numbers we had: 34 assists on 39 baskets, 17 3s. But what’s impressive to me is our ability on the backboard tonight. We knew that would be a challenge. VCU came in with a 10-plus rebounding margin.”

Feb. 10, 2018 (Siegel Center): VCU 88, Dayton 84 (OT)

Storyline: The Flyers were trying to prove their rout of VCU in the first matchup of the season wasn’t a fluke.

What we wrote: Trey Landers had a decent look at the 3-pointer. It was only his second attempt of the game. He had made the first. With four seconds left in overtime, in his 41st minute of action, he shot what would have been the go-ahead 3-pointer and maybe the game-winner.

» RELATED: Fatigue plays part in Dayton’s loss

The shot fell well short. That miss wasn’t the reason Dayton lost 88-84 in overtime Saturday to Virginia Commonwealth at the Siegel Center. It was just Dayton’s last chance.

“I kind of hesitated,” Landers said. “I saw the defender coming over. I was about to make an entry pass.”

Dayton (11-13, 5-7) missed all six of its 3-point attempts in overtime. VCU (15-10, 7-5) missed both of its 3-point shots in the extra period, but Justin Tillman made 3 of 3 shots in the paint, scoring seven of his 37 points. That was the difference at the end.

» RELATED: Four reasons to keep watching Flyers | How patient are Dayton fans?

Dayton had all the momentum entering overtime thanks to a 16-1 run in the last 3:13 of the second half. Jalen Crutcher, who led the Flyers with 21 points, hit a 3-pointer to start the comeback.

“We just had to stick together and keep playing as a team and keep the ball moving,” Crutcher said.

March 8, 2018 (Washington, D.C.): VCU 77, Dayton 72

Storyline: The Flyers entered the A-10 tournament needing to win it to have any chance of playing in the postseason.

What we wrote: The season ended Thursday as it began for the Dayton Flyers — with everything hanging on a lob pass to Josh Cunningham.

Four months after Xeyrius Williams found Cunningham under the basket for a buzzer-beating shot in a victory against Ball State in coach Anthony Grant’s first game, Jalen Crutcher lofted a pass to Cunningham. The Flyers trailed Virginia Commonwealth 72-70 with 34 seconds to play. Cunningham caught the ball but had it stripped away by Mike’l Simms.

» GAME COVERAGE: Grant proud to see freshmen improve | Archdeacon on VCU’s knockout blow | Game photos | Three takeaways

VCU’s Malik Crowfield grabbed the loose ball. Then the Rams secured a 77-72 victory in the second round of the Atlantic 10 tournament with four free throws in the final 20 seconds.

With that, Dayton’s slim chance of extending its streaks of 11 straight winning seasons and four straight NCAA tournament appearances ended. The Flyers finished 14-17, the same record they had in 2005-06, the last time they had a losing season. It’s Dayton’s second losing season in the last 19 years.

Jan. 16, 2019 (Siegel Center): VCU 76, Dayton 71

Storyline: The Flyers brought a season-best five-game winning streak into the game.

What we wrote: The basketball left the hands of Jordan Davis, hit the backboard, rolled around the rim and then came to a rest on the back of the rim. Everyone waited for it to fall into the basket or off to the side.

Instead, the ball sat there for four seconds before the officials waved the play dead and awarded the ball to Virginia Commonwealth. It might still be sitting there had Dayton’s Obi Toppin not rushed over at that point to dunk the ball, but the play had ended, and with it, Dayton’s chances of winning at the Siegel Center died.

“It was crazy,” Dayton point guard Jalen Crutcher said. “I’ve never seen that before.”

» TWENTY PHOTOS: Top shots from game

That shot with 13 seconds to play didn’t decide the game — the go-ahead 3-pointer by Marcus Evans 20 seconds earlier accomplished that — but it symbolized Dayton’s frustration in a 76-71 loss.

The Flyers (11-6, 3-1) had a chance to stamp themselves as the team to beat in the Atlantic 10 Conference. Instead, the Rams (12-5, 3-1) outscored Dayton 11-2 in the final four minutes to win the game, ending Dayton’s six-game winning streak.

“You’ve got to give them credit,” Dayton coach Anthony Grant said. “We had opportunities, and Evans stepped up and made a big shot there.”

Feb. 16, 2019: VCU 69, Dayton 68

Storyline: Dayton had won four of its last five games and delivered one of the most impressive performances in the previous game, winning 77-48 at Rhode Island.

What we wrote: Anthony Grant will remember the character and the fight of his team during a 22-point comeback most of all, but in the end, the Dayton Flyers suffered a familiar loss to Virginia Commonwealth on Saturday.

Four straight times, the Flyers have fought the Rams to the final minutes. Four straight times in the last two seasons, they have lost winnable games. This defeat, a 69-68 decision in front of a sold-out crowd waving white pom-poms at UD Arena, may hurt more than any because it puts a serious dent in Dayton’s dreams of contending for the Atlantic 10 Conference regular-season championship.

» INJURY NEWS: Flyers down one player for VCU game

Marcus Evans, who hit the go-ahead 3-pointer in the final minute in January to beat the Flyers in Richmond, played the role of Dayton-killer again, scoring the winning basket on a layup with six seconds to play.

“To be down 22 with 18 minutes to play, the challenge was to be able to stay together and be able to continue to fight and continue to believe,” Grant said, “and we did that in great fashion. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to make enough plays at the end of the game, but it wasn’t for a lack of effort or belief or togetherness.”

Playing with seven scholarship players with Trey Landers sidelined with a shoulder injury, Dayton (16-9, 8-4) almost pulled off a victory that would have moved it into a second-place tie with Virginia Commonwealth (19-6, 10-2) and George Mason (15-10, 9-3). Instead, Dayton finds itself in fourth place heading into a game Tuesday at first-place Davidson (19-6, 10-2).

Dayton trailed 41-29 at halftime and then gave up 10 straight points to start the second half. It got back in the game with a 26-4 run from the 15:00 mark to the 4:50 mark, taking a 60-59 lead on an alley-oop pass from Jalen Crutcher to Obi Toppin.

The Flyers took a 68-67 lead on a basket by Toppin with 15 seconds to play. He was fouled on the shot but missed the free throw. VCU didn’t call timeout and gave the ball to Evans, who split Dwayne Cohill and Josh Cunningham to score in traffic at the rim.

“We knew what we were going to do,” VCU coach Mike Rhoades said. “Why call a timeout and let Dayton change its defense and change its matchup.”

Dayton’s Jordan Davis had a layup blocked with just under a second to play. The Flyers got the ball out of bounds with 0.7 seconds left but were unable to get off a shot at the end.

Jan. 14, 2020 (UD Arena): Dayton 74, VCU 65

Storyline: Dayton had won five games in a row and climbed to No. 13 in the Associated Press poll entering the first of two regular-season matchups against the Rams.

What we wrote: The No. 13 Dayton Flyers lived up to their billing as the best team in the Atlantic 10 Conference, beating Virginia Commonwealth 79-65 on Tuesday at UD Arena.

» PHOTOS: Flyers vs. Rams

The game was tied at 41-41 early in the second half when Dayton began a 22-0 run on a dunk by Obi Toppin at the 17:06 mark. The Flyers led 63-41 at the end of the run. The Rams didn’t score again the 10:51 mark. From that point on, the Flyers just had to hold the lead, and VCU never got closer than 10 point.

Dayton (15-2, 4-0) has won 14 of 15 games by double digits.

Feb. 18, 2020 (Siegel Center): Dayton 66, VCU 61

Storyline: Dayton had won five games in a row and climbed to No. 13 in the Associated Press poll entering the first of two regular-season matchups against the Rams.

What we wrote: The dream of 18-0 lives on for the Dayton Flyers.

No. 5 Dayton beat Virginia Commonwealth 66-61 on Tuesday at the Siegel Center, improving to 24-2 and 13-0 in the Atlantic 10 Conference. They are five victories away from becoming the first A-10 team to finish the conference schedule undefeated since it moved to an 18-game schedule.

» PHOTOS: Dayton at VCU

The Rams (17-9, 7-6) suffered their third straight loss, falling short of knocking off the highest-ranked team to ever play at the 21-year-old Siegel Center. Dayton now has a two-game lead over second-place Rhode Island.



Jan. 23, 2021 (Siegel Center): VCU 66, Dayton 43

Storyline: Dayton had won three games in a row after a stunning loss at Fordham and needed a victory to keep pace with the top contenders in the A-10.

What we wrote: The Dayton Flyers tied the school record for fewest points scored in a half, flirted with the record for fewest points scored in a game and narrowly avoided the worst loss of the Anthony Grant era on Saturday in Richmond, Va.

Virginia Commonwealth, coming off a meltdown of its own in a 70-54 loss Wednesday at St. Bonaventure, watched Dayton fall apart in the first half, and the situation didn’t improve much in the second half for the Flyers as they lost 66-43 at the Siegel Center.

“When you don’t see the shots fall and the lead starts to swell on their end, you’ve got a choice to make,” said Dayton coach Anthony Grant said in a phone interview after the game. “How do you handle adversity? We weren’t able to recover at any point.”

Feb. 9, 2021 (UD Arena): VCU 76, Dayton 67

Storyline: Trying to find consistency in an up-and-down season, Dayton was also looking for a better performance after the blowout loss at VCU two weeks earlier.

What we wrote: One pass by Jalen Crutcher bounced off Jordy Tshimanga’s hands in the paint. Mustapha Amzil then ran into a Virginia Commonwealth defender and lost the ball. One possession later, Tshimanga couldn’t get a good shot as three VCU defenders surrounded him, though one slapped his arm as he shot.

Just like that, a promising comeback fizzed for the Dayton Flyers, who played better the second time around against VCU, who won the first matchup 66-43 on Jan. 23, but lost just the same — this time 76-67 on Tuesday at UD Arena.

Those three possessions — and every other possession in the final four minutes — doomed Dayton. The Rams outscored Dayton 8-0 in that stretch, taking all the drama out of a close game.

Dayton did much better in every offensive category compared to the first game but saw just how good the VCU defense can be when it mattered the most.

“That’s one of their skills,” Dayton guard Elijah Weaver said. “They attack you the whole game.”

Jan. 5, 2022 (UD Arena): VCU 53, Dayton 52

Storyline: Entering this game, Dayton hadn’t played in two weeks, and VCU hadn’t played in three weeks. COVID-19 was still playing havoc with schedules at this point. It was the first A-10 game of the season for both teams.

What we wrote: Adrian “Ace” Baldwin Jr. hit a 3-pointer with six seconds to play to give Virginia Commonwealth a 53-52 victory against the Dayton Flyers on Wednesday in the Atlantic 10 Conference opener for both teams.

» RELATED: Toppin returns to his ‘second home’

Dayton took a 52-50 lead when R.J. Blakney made 1 of 2 free throws with 24 seconds to play and then 1 of 2 free throws one second later. He grabbed the rebound after his own miss on the first free throws and was fouled again.

VCU called timeout with 14.2 seconds left and gave the ball to Baldwin, a sophomore guard who averages 10.0 points per game and shoots 26 percent from 3-point range. He made the shot in front of Dayton’s Malachi Smith.

Smith got the ball after the 3-pointer and raced up court and threw a long pass to DaRon Holmes that was deflected to R.J. Blakney, who missed a shot at the buzzer with two defenders on him.

Feb. 2, 2022 (Siegel Center): Dayton 82, VCU 52

Storyline: Dayton had won seven of eight games since the loss to VCU at home.

What we wrote: The winter storm in Ohio prevented the Dayton Flyers from flying home after the game Wednesday night at the Siegel Center. They planned to board a charter flight late Thursday morning. Then it’ll be a short turnaround before a trip to St. Louis on Friday for a 2 p.m. Saturday game.

That’s life in college basketball at this time of year, but it’s an easier life to endure when you’re winning and that’s even truer when you win by 30 points.

Dayton routed Virginia Commonwealth 82-52, reaching the halfway point of the Atlantic 10 Conference schedule with their best performance of 2022 and perhaps their best in league play since a 106-79 defeat of VCU in 2018.

“I think that was one of our best performances of the season,” Dayton forward DaRon Holmes II said. “We all locked in together. We played as a team. We played great defense. We played tough. We played with heart and passion. We didn’t get too emotional.”

» PHOTOS: Dayton vs. VCU

Holmes scored a career-high 21 points. Kobe Elvis also reached his career high with 20 points. Toumani Camara carried the offense early, scoring 16 of his 18 points in the first half by making 4 of 4 3-pointers.

Jan. 13, 2023 (UD Arena): VCU 63, Dayton 62

Storyline: Dayton entered the game with seven straight victories and hadn’t lost at home in more than a year.

What we wrote: A last-minute meltdown cost the Dayton Flyers, who suffered their second straight one-point loss at home to Atlantic 10 Conference rival Virginia Commonwealth.

» PHOTOS: Dayton vs. VCU

Dayton fell 53-52 on Jan. 5 last season when Adrian Baldwin made a go-ahead 3-pointer with six seconds to play. That was its last loss at UD Arena until Friday when it committed three turnovers in a row in the last minute and lost 63-62.

Dayton had a 52-48 lead and the ball with 30 seconds left when Mike Sharavjamts threw a pass that was intercepted by David Shriver, who made a 3-pointer with 28 seconds to play. On Dayton’s next possession, Toumani Camara advanced the ball past half court but had it stolen by Nick Kern, who scored a go-ahead layup with 16 seconds to play.

Dayton turned the ball over again on the in-bounds play after that basket, but Jayden Nunn missed the front end of a 1-and-1. Dayton got the ball over halfcourt and called timeout to set up a play with 5.7 seconds left. Camara got the ball but missed a shot near the rim with two defenders on him.

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