Dayton’s offense and defense struggle in loss at George Mason

Dayton’s Darrell Davis shoots over George Mason’s Justin Kier on Wednesday, Feb. 14, 2018, at EagleBank Arena in Fairfax, Va. David Jablonski/Staff
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Dayton’s Darrell Davis shoots over George Mason’s Justin Kier on Wednesday, Feb. 14, 2018, at EagleBank Arena in Fairfax, Va. David Jablonski/Staff

Anthony Grant: ‘We couldn’t find any continuity at all’

The Dayton Flyers hit a low point Wednesday with an 85-67 loss at George Mason. It's the lowest point of the season for the moment, though a defeat Saturday night at home against Fordham would surpass a loss on the road to the Patriots.

People wouldn’t forget a loss to Fordham. Dayton fans have teased Virginia Commonwealth fans for a year now about VCU’s loss at Fordham last season. Dayton is a different team at home, so it’s unlikely it loses to Fordham, but this team is hard to predict.

» RELATED: Dayton reeling after six losses in eight games

Just when it seemed as if Dayton had gotten all the worst performances out of its system, it failed in almost every phase of the game at EagleBank Arena. What went wrong? In a word: Everything.

“We struggled offensively,” Dayton coach Anthony Grant said. “We couldn’t find any continuity at all. We missed inside. We missed outside. We had untimely deflections on turnovers. We couldn’t get in any rhythm, and maybe it was their defense. Then you look at it defensively. When you come on the road, you’ve got to be able to defend. That’s where you’ve got to hang your hat, and we just haven’t been able to put that together all year.”

» PHOTOS: Top shots from Wednesday’s game

Grant gave the reserves more playing time than he has in recent weeks, and they did not perform well.

With Dayton leading 14-8 seven minutes into the game, it went through a stretch with the two freshman guards, Jalen Crutcher and Jordan Davis, on the floor with the two freshmen forwards, Matej Svoboda and Kostas Antetokounmpo, and junior point guard John Crosby. That group had played a total of five minutes together all season.

Svoboda missed three straight shots during that span. Then Antetokounmpo missed a 3-pointer. Everyone but Crutcher left the game with nine minutes left in the half after George Mason tied the game at 14-14.

» RELATED: All-around poor performance leads to 18-point loss

Despite that stretch, Dayton was still in the game with under four minutes to play in the first half. Crutcher tied the game at 25-25 with 3:33 to go on a 3-pointer. Then George Mason answered with an 11-0 run. Otis Livingston II, who scored 29 points, had five points in that span.

George Mason led 36-27 at halftime. Dayton cut the deficit to seven points in the second half but trailed by double digits for the last 14:53. George Mason scored 13 points in a three-minute span early in the half. Dayton had no answer

The Patriots (12-14, 6-7) moved a game ahead of Dayton (11-14, 5-8). George Mason shares seventh place with St. Joseph’s and Duquesne.

George Mason beat Dayton for the first time in Atlantic 10 play. The Patriots’ only previous victory in the series came on Nov. 17, 2007, in Fairfax. They were a member of the Colonial Athletic Association then.

“It’s a great win for our guys,” George Mason coach Dave Paulsen said. “I think we really defended at a high level for the vast majority of the game. They’re really good in transition, and we did a good job with our transition defense. We did a good job minus the first three or four minutes taking care of the ball and getting good shots, and one of the best ways to stop a transition team is by running good offense.”

» NOTES: Livingston dominates for Patriots

The Flyers shot 38.2 percent from the field. It was their worst percentage since they shot 37.1 percent in an 81-65 loss at St. Joseph’s. The Patriots shot 50.9 percent from the field and 52.6 percent from 3-point range (10 of 19). It was their best 3-point shooting effort in A-10 play. George Mason beat Dayton 39-26 on the boards.

There were no bright spots for the Flyers.

“I didn’t think we played well either half, to be honest,” Grant said. “We didn’t have the fire and the intensity on the defensive end. Obviously, you’re going to have nights when shots don’t fall, but you’ve got to have a toughness about you that you can play through that on the defensive end and get stops and get rebounds. We missed 60 percent of our shots in the first half, and we had zero offensive rebounds.”