The Dayton Flyers avoided long scoring droughts — something that plagued the team last season — in their first five games, but the problem doomed them in a 65-54 loss Friday to Oklahoma in the third-place game at the Battle 4 Atlantis.
Dayton opened the second half on a 13-0 run, taking a 41-34 lead with 16:40 to play and then scored two points on 1-of-14 shooting in the next 10 minutes. The Sooners, not exactly lighting up the scoreboard themselves during this time, moved in front 47-43.
That one stretch ensured Dayton’s third-worst offensive game, measured by offensive efficiency, of the last two seasons. Dayton scored 0.86 points per possession after scoring more than 1.0 point per possession in the first five games.
“We really got really stagnant in the second half, and shots weren’t falling,” junior guard Trey Landers said Tuesday as Dayton continued preparation for a 7 p.m. game Friday against No. 25 Mississippi State at UD Arena. “It’s good for us to watch it because it’s all stuff we can fix going into other games.”
What exactly happened during that 10-plus minute stretch to turn a winnable game into a double-digit defeat? In summary, a lack of transition opportunities combined with some rushed shot attempts and a stingy Oklahoma defense, which ranks ninth in the country in efficiency and held Florida to 0.87 points per possession in the first round of the tournament, prevented the Flyers from adding to their lead or answering Oklahoma’s run. Fatigue also played a part in Dayton’s demise. Oklahoma also was playing its third game in three days but had a deeper bench.
After watching the replay on ESPN+, here is a more detailed look at Dayton’s possessions.
16:10: After Dayton makes five of its first six shots in the half and watches Oklahoma miss its first three shots and commit two turnovers, the Sooners start their comeback on a layup by Jamuni McNeace. He caught a lob pass in the paint between Landers and Josh Cunningham and converted an open look.
15:49: Landers gets a decent look at a layup as he cuts through traffic, but McNeace gets a piece of the shot. It’s the first of four straight misses by the Flyers.
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15:11: An errant pass by Obi Toppin leads to a turnover. It’s one of only nine Dayton turnovers, but the Sooners turn it into a transition opportunity. Christian James is fouled and makes 1 of 2 free throws. Dayton’s lead is 41-37.
14:37: Jalen Crutcher throws up a long 3-pointer with five seconds remaining on the shot clock.
13:43: With the shot clock again winding down, Toppin misses a medium-range jump shot.
12:42: Dayton runs the shot clock down to 4 seconds. Ryan Mikesell gets a good look at a 3-pointer but misses. He missed all three of his attempts from long range. The team made 6 of 24 3-pointers.
11:55: Crutcher waits for the shot clock to go under 10 and then ends the drought with a layup. It’s one of his many beautiful moves in the three games at Imperial Gym. Dayton leads 43-39.
11:11: For the fifth straight possession, Dayton runs its offense until it has little time left on the shot clock. Landers misses a well-contested 3-pointer from the corner just before the buzzer. Oklahoma goes the other way on a fast break after getting the rebound and ties the game at 45-45 on two free throws by Miles Reynolds.
10:41: Cunningham, surrounded by three players, has the ball stripped on the way up for a shot. Aaron Calixte goes the other way in transition and scores to give Oklahoma the lead. It leads the rest of the game.
9:59: With the shot clock about to expire, Cunningham take a step-back jump shot. It’s an airball.
9:26: Landers commits a turnover as he tries to find Cunningham underneath the basket.
“Oklahoma has really settled in on this switching defense,” ESPN’s Dan Dakich says. “They’re switching four positions, and it has stymied Dayton.”
8:47: Landers catches a lob pass at the rim but can’t finish. The rebound goes to Cunningham, but he misses a tougher shot in the paint. It leads to a fast-break layup by the Sooners.
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8:04: Jordan Davis misses a wild shot from the baseline. Jhery Matos grabs the rebound but is short with the putback.
7:31: Crutcher pulls up for a 3-pointer early in the shot clock but misses.
Matos misses a step-back jump shot, but Davis saves the ball from going out of bounds to give Dayton a second chance. With the shot clock running down, Crutcher scores on a floater, ending a 1-of-14 stretch for the Flyers. Dayton trails 47-45.
While it was still anyone’s game at that point, Oklahoma’s offense found its rhythm down the stretch, making four shots in a row at one point to score 10 points in a three-minute span and clinch the victory.
“The Oklahoma game, they were obviously very good defensively,” Dayton coach Anthony Grant said. “Our worst offensive performance of the tournament. We couldn’t get shots to fall when we needed them to fall. Give them credit. They made the plays down the stretch to win the game. But I felt walking away from it, even though we ended up with a 1-2 record, we got better from the competition, and I think we learned a lot about ourselves. I told our guys after the game we needed to walk away from that with a level of confidence.”
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