The Dayton Flyers accomplished the two most important tasks Saturday in an exhibition game at UD Arena: win and go home healthy — or at least as healthy as when they arrived.
There was little chance of them losing to Capital University, though it had never dominated the Division III program from Bexley, Ohio, like this in three previous matchups this century, but the way things have gone in the preseason, there was no guarantee they wouldn’t suffer another injury.
Dayton, with eight of its 12 scholarship players available, beat the Comets 80-42 without appearing to suffer any setbacks. This game, like the 16 regular-season games that will follow, was sold out, though all 13,407 fans with tickets didn’t show. There were a few empty seats. That likely won’t be the case Nov. 7 when the No. 24 Flyers open the season against Lindenwood University.
“First of all, it was great to be back in front of our fan base,” Dayton coach Anthony Grant said. “That never gets old to see the arena with a lot of people out there. I thought it was really good for our guys to get the first experience with outside competition in front of a crowd tonight. Like I told the guys, I think this is practice No. 25. It was the next step in terms of getting ready for the regular season to start, but it’s the first time playing outside competition with our fans. There were a lot of good things I saw out there tonight.”
‘The game had everything fans could want an in exhibition:
• Eleven dunks by the Flyers.
• DaRon Holmes II flashing to big smile as he stepped to the free-throw line in the first half.
• Mike Sharavjamts sending a no-look pass to Toumani Camara, who missed an easy layup but otherwise had a solid night.
• R.J. Blakney throwing down the best dunk of the night over a couple of Capital defenders who could end up on a poster.
• Two walk-ons making baskets in the final minutes: Brady Uhl and newcomer Cole Hatkevich.
The score doesn’t mean much in an exhibition game, but this was the most lopsided Dayton exhibition victory since at least 2004. The schedules at DaytonFlyers.com don’t go back any further than that. Dayton beat Capital by 18 points the last time they played in 2018 and by 25 points in 2008 and 21 in 2004.
Dayton led this game by as many as 40 points and outscored the Comets 20-0 from the 6:22 mark of the first half to the 18:03 mark in the second half.
“It’s been a while, so we were all excited to get back on the court,” Holmes said. “I know the new guys were excited: Mike and Tyrone (Baker) and the walk-ons and the new coaches. It was just a great experience.”
Dayton’s big men, Holmes and Toumani Camara, dominated the smaller Comets. Camara had 16 points and nine rebounds. Holmes had 15 points, two rebounds and two blocks. They combined to make 13 of 19 field-goal attempts, and that was a big reason Dayton shot 59.3% from the field.
Blakney and Kobe Elvis, two other returning starters, each scored 11 points. Zimi Nwokeji had seven points and seven rebounds. Mustapha Amzil scored six points.
Elvis played the point guard spot most of the game and finished with five assists and three turnovers in 26 minutes.
“I thought he did a really good job of leading his team and getting everybody organized and on the same page,” Grant said. “I thought he did a really good job of taking care of the basketball and making sure that guys knew what they were doing and what we were in. That’s what you want to see at this time of year.”
Sharavjamts, a freshman from Mongolia, earned the start and had nine points and three assists. He made 2 of 4 3-pointers.
“It was fun,” Sharavjamts said. “I feel like this game will build good habits for me.”
Grant liked the poise Sharavjamts displayed.
“For a freshmen to go out there in his first game in front of a crowd,” Grant said, “and then to play a couple of different positions and a couple of different roles, I think he did a really good job.”
Sharavjamts led Dayton with 28 minutes. There was plenty of playing time available with Malachi Smith on the bench with a protective boot on his right foot and Koby Brea and Richard Amaefule, who have both been out with injuries for weeks, right beside him. Grant did not provide an update on the injured players. There is still no timetable for a return for any of them.
Absent from the game was sophomore forward Kaleb Washington, who has been suspended from the team, Grant said in his postgame press conference. Washington is not practicing while on suspension. Grant did not provide a timetable for his return.
“He understands what he needs to do,” Grant said.
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