Dayton moving on after stunning loss at home

Flyers return to action Wednesday against Lipscomb four days after loss to UMass Lowell

The room where the postgame press conferences take place at UD Arena sits just above the visitor’s locker room. After most games, not a peep escapes through the ceiling because more often than not the Dayton Flyers win at home and the losing locker room is a quiet one.

That wasn’t the case Saturday when UMass Lowell beat Dayton 59-58 in the second game of the season. Lowell’s boisterous celebration could be heard one floor above, though it had died down by the time Dayton coach Anthony Grant and two players, Elijah Weaver and DaRon Holmes II, arrived at the press conference.

The River Hawks (2-0) had plenty of reasons to celebrate. This was the best true road victory in their nine seasons in Division I and may turn out be the best victory period depending on where Dayton finishes in the NCAA Evaluation Tool and Ken Pomeroy rankings. It’s 94th right now in the latter rankings, while the first NET ranking of the season has not been released.

“This is obviously a great win for our program,” said Lowell coach Pat Duquette said in a story posted to the school’s website. “Dayton is one of the best atmospheres in college basketball. The best part about the win was the defense we played. Justin (Faison) hit some big shots for us. Allin (Blunt) hit two huge free throws. We executed without turning the ball over and the defense kept us in the game.”

Dayton (1-1) doesn’t have much time ponder the defeat. It returns to action at 7 p.m. Wednesday against Lipscomb (3-1), which ranks 228th in the Pomeroy ratings, and then plays another home game at 2 p.m. Saturday against No. 312 Austin Peay (1-1).

The Flyers returned to practice Monday at the Cronin Center, and Grant talked to reporters along with freshman Malachi Smith and second-year guard R.J. Blakney.

“You’ve got to have a short memory,” Smith said. “We’ve got a young team, so we’ve got to move on. You can’t dwell on one loss. It’s a long season. We’ve got a lot of games. Next game on Wednesday we’ve got to lock in.”

“It’s a wake-up call for us to basically just hunker down and work and just grind,” Smith said. “Today’s a great day to get better. We have practice today. We’re going to work and clean some stuff up.”

Dayton isn’t the only Atlantic 10 team “going through some stuff” — a phrase both Grant and Virginia Commonwealth coach Mike Rhoades used Saturday. VCU lost 58-44 at home Saturday to Wagner, a program that ranks 152nd in the Pomeroy ratings.

Saint Louis and George Mason (both 3-0) and Saint Joseph’s and Rhode Island (both 2-0) are the only teams in the A-10 that escaped the first week of the season without a loss.

Dayton’s loss was the worst of all if you judge by the Pomeroy rankings, which have Lowell at No. 260 after the victory. On the bright side, for a team that ranks last in the country in experience, according to the same website, it’s early and seasons aren’t defined the second game of the season.

“The more experiences we get together,” Grant said, “playing with each other, understanding the system, understanding how to take advantage of the way that we play, which allows the guys to play to their strengths, that’s the process.”


Lipscomb at Dayton, 7 p.m., Spectrum News 1, 1290, 95.7

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