The Dayton Flyers stayed at The Castle Inn Motel on their first trip to Olean, N.Y., in the 1990s. It adjoined a restaurant that looked like a Medieval Times and billed itself as a “sumptuous inn motel in the enchanted mountains.”
Dayton now stays across the street from the St. Bonaventure campus at the Fairfield Inn. It’s not as memorable but probably more comfortable than the now-defunct Castle. As for the level of enchantment Dayton gets from its trips to western New York, that likely depends on the results at the Reilly Center.
Until a 68-59 loss Saturday to the Bonnies, Dayton had (15-9, 7-4) enjoyed its trips to the Southern Tier. Its first defeat at St. Bonaventure since 2012 called into question Dayton’s ability to compete down the stretch in the Atlantic 10 Conference.
“We have to look at ourselves and look in the mirror and see what we did wrong,” forward DaRon Holmes II said Saturday.
Holmes delivered his most productive game in a seven-game stretch, scoring 21 points on 7-of-8 shooting to bounce back from a four-point performance in an 85-81 overtime victory against Loyola Chicago. It was a small consolation.
“I just want to win at the end of the day,” Holmes said. “It starts with leaders like me and the rest of our leaders. We have to do a better job all around. I have to do a better job myself.”
Dayton has lost three road games in a row to George Washington, Rhode Island and St. Bonaventure and faces an even bigger test at 7 p.m. Tuesday against first-place Virginia Commonwealth (18-6, 9-2) at the Siegel Center in Richmond, Va.
Dayton had won seven straight games by double digits and was 4-0 in the A-10 when it lost 63-62 to VCU at UD Arena on Jan. 13. Two turnovers led a quick five points in the final 30 seconds for VCU as it turned a four-point deficit into a one-point lead.
Dayton is 3-3 since that loss. VCU is 5-1, though the one loss was a surprising one: 61-58 to St. Bonaventure at the Siegel Center on Jan. 28. VCU responded by winning 61-59 at Davidson last Tuesday and then beating Saint Louis 73-65 at the Chaifetz Center on Friday with first place on the line.
VCU point guard Adrian “Ace Baldwin scored a career-high 37 points against St. Louis. He made 12 of 15 shots from the field. In the previous game against Davidson, he made a go-ahead jump shot with 15.8 seconds left.
Dayton hopes history repeats itself Tuesday. The Flyers suffered a one-point loss at home to VCU last season and then beat VCU 82-52 at the Siegel Center one month later. It was VCU’s most lopsided loss in 19 years.
In that game, Holmes scored what was then 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.
“I think that was one of our best performances of the season,” Holmes said then. “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.”
Dayton at VCU, 7 p.m., CBS Sports Network, 1290, 95.7
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