There is no rivalry trophy — and thus not one to sell at a later date for some extra cash — but Dayton vs. Virginia Commonwealth has turned into one of the best matchups in the Atlantic 10 Conference.
For Dayton, which lost its main rival, Xavier, to the Big East, the annual games against VCU have become dates to circle on the schedule.
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With apologies to Saint Louis and the fabled Arch Baron Cup, VCU is Dayton’s biggest rival, and it will continue to be so as long as both teams remain contenders and both fan bases keep packing their arenas.
Here’s a look back at the last 12 games between the teams since VCU joined the conference in the 2012-13 season. The teams meet for the first time in 2020 at 8 p.m. Tuesday at UD Arena.
Jan. 9, 2013 (Siegel Center): VCU 74, Dayton 62
Storyline: This was VCU’s first season in the A-10 after a move from the Colonial Athletic Association and its first game against Dayton since a four-game series between 1983 and 1986. VCU won three of those meetings.
What we wrote: No. 24 VCU wore black shooting shirts during warm-ups with one word stitched across the back: “Havoc.” And Dayton doesn’t have to be told why that’s become the Rams’ team motto.
Facing suffocating full-court pressure, the Flyers committed an untidy 26 turnovers and dropped their Atlantic 10 opener, 74-62, before a boisterous sellout crowd of 7,693 Wednesday.
UD rebounded with fury (finishing with a 39-27 edge), knocked down 3-pointers (9-for-21) and took away the Rams’ 3-point attack, one of their chief weapons (5-for-20). But the turnover travails were too much to overcome.
“Our team is accustomed to playing hard. We’re not always perfect. But at the end of the day, we were here to battle,” UD coach Archie Miller said. “If we were a little more clean with the turnovers and maybe hit the front end of some 1-and-1’s late in the second half to get that thing from nine or seven to six or four, the game’s a little bit different. I thought our kids stuck with the game plan, (and) we gave great effort … but we just turned it over too many times.”
Jan. 22, 2014 (UD Arena): VCU 80, Dayton 66
Storyline: The Flyers needed a victory after a 1-2 start in A-10 play. This was the first game against the Flyers at UD Arena for Shaka Smart, UD’s former director of basketball operations, as VCU’s head coach.
What we wrote: As the final minutes ticked away Wednesday, a cold breeze drifted down to Tom Blackburn Court. So many fans filed early for the exits, the chill of January invaded the comfy confines of UD Arena.
By that time, the temperature outside had dipped to about 10 degrees. Virginia Commonwealth had nothing to do with that but everything to do with how cold the crowd of 12,512 felt after seeing the Flyers lose 80-66.
The Rams forced 18 turnovers, shot 49 percent from the field and dominated the Flyers for most of the 40 minutes. It was the type of game that makes everyone who voted in the Atlantic 10 preseason poll look like sages. VCU was picked to win it all, and the Flyers were picked seventh.
For now, after losing two straight games, Dayton (13-6, 1-3) is just a game out of last place.
“We just got put on our butts,” Dayton senior Devin Oliver said. “We didn’t quit at all, by any teams, but we didn’t respond like we should have.”
Feb. 28, 2015 (Siegel Center): Dayton 59, VCU 55
Storyline: Dayton needed a victory to pad its NCAA tournament resume and stay in contention for the A-10 regular-season title. The Flyers entered the game with four losses in their last five A-10 road games.
What we wrote: Jordan Sibert left the Siegel Center with a bag of ice wrapped around his wrist. Two bags of ice clung to Kendall Pollard’s knees. Darrell Davis walked away with only one iced knee.
Held together by the training staff and coaches and sometimes seemingly by magic — not to mention duct tape, string and whatever else keeps a team like this afloat 28 games into the season — the Dayton Flyers somehow found a way Saturday to play their best basketball at the perfect time. They lack numbers and height, but make up the deficit with a league-leading amount of heart.
How else could you explain a 59-55 victory over No. 22 Virginia Commonwealth?
“It’s the right time to play this type of basketball,” sophomore point guard Scoochie Smith said. “We played hard. March starts tomorrow.”
March 15, 2015 (Brooklyn, N.Y.): VCU 71, Dayton 65
Storyline: The Flyers returned to the A-10 championship game for the first time since 2011, seeking their second tournament title and first outside their own arena.
What we wrote: Briante Weber, the fallen leader of Virginia Commonwealth, stood in the middle of the court crying tears of joys as he leaned on his crutches. His teammates found him and embraced him. A team on the cusp of an Atlantic 10 championship two years in a row finally ascended the ladders Sunday at the Barclays Center and cut down the net.
Walking past Weber and the jubilant Rams, as confetti rained, the Dayton Flyers showed little emotion. They wore blank faces with a touch of disappointment.
Bridesmaids again, just as they were in the regular season, the Flyers still had many reasons to be proud despite a 71-65 loss in a tension-filled tournament final.
“We’ve accomplished a lot,” Dayton senior Jordan Sibert said. “People didn’t think we would get this far. They doubted us as soon as we lost our players. I’m extremely proud of these guys. I know we’re all frustrated about the loss. Everyone wants to win. We never gave up and I wouldn’t trade these guys for anything.”
March 5, 2016 (UD Arena): Dayton 68, VCU 67 (OT)
Storyline: Dayton needed a victory on Senior Night to clinch a share of the A-10 regular-season championship with VCU and St. Bonaventure.
What we wrote: Dayton basketball players don’t reveal much on social media. That’s probably a good thing, especially when you’re playing for a coach who talks all the time about eliminating the noise from the outside world.
However, the Flyers couldn’t resist celebrating their 68-67 overtime victory over Virginia Commonwealth on Saturday night at UD Arena by sharing their experiences.
Junior guard Kyle Davis, who hit the go-ahead shot with 16 seconds left in overtime, posted a photo to Instagram of himself wearing an Atlantic 10 championship T-shirt and paid tribute to his late grandma and aunt. He wrote, “I know y’all couldn’t physically be here, but I know y’all were watching over us tonight.”
Senior forward Dyshawn Pierre and junior point guard Scoochie Smith, who scored a career-high 29 points, shared a video of coach Archie Miller entering the locker room after the game with the net the Flyers had just cut down. The players danced around Miller as he held the net in the air.
Not long after, Smith, Pierre and Davis talked to reporters in the postgame press conference. Davis dumped a bottle of water on Smith’s head as he left the room. Smith had just played the game of his life and carried the Flyers to a share of their first A-10 title — UD, VCU and St. Bonaventure all finished 14-4 — since they won the West Division in 2004.
Jan 27, 2017 (Siegel Center): VCU 73, Dayton 68
Storyline: The Flyers were off to a 6-1 start in conference play and had won three games in a row.
What we wrote: A Virginia Commonwealth fan dressed as the late pop star Prince applauded the Dayton Flyers as they filed past the student section on the way to the locker room.
Prince liked the effort, though effort only gets you so far in a game like this. The Flyers lost 73-68 Friday at the Siegel Center because they weren’t big enough or physical enough or tough enough under the basket.
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VCU outscored Dayton 26-8 on second-chance points, taking advantage of an 18-8 offensive-rebound advantage and a 41-24 overall rebound margin.
“They did a really good job the last eight minutes of controlling the game by using the paint, whether that was with the post game and or their guards attacking and making us help,” Dayton coach Archie Miller said. “We just could not keep the ball off the glass. It was just too overwhelming in the last eight minutes.”
March 1, 2017 (UD Arena): Dayton 79, VCU 72
Storyline: Dayton needed a victory on Senior Night to win the A-10 title outright for the first time.
What we wrote: Senior Kyle Davis jumped onto the press-row table. Then he dove into the student section. He knew the drill. He celebrated an Atlantic 10 championship a year ago after a tense victory over Virginia Commonwealth. Now he did it again — only this one is so much sweeter because the Dayton Flyers will share it with no one.
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Dayton led from start to finish against VCU on Wednesday at UD Arena, but it was never easy and it wasn’t over until the final minutes when UD’s seniors stepped to the line and secured a 79-72 victory with free throws.
“This is about as proud as you can be of a team,” Dayton coach Archie Miller said.
Dayton (24-5, 15-2) clinched its first outright A-10 title and its second title in a row — it shared the championship with VCU and St. Bonaventure last season — with a strong performance on offense and just enough defensive pressure in the final minutes to stop the Rams. The Flyers won in front of a sellout crowd of 13,455, breaking UD’s single-season average attendance mark.
“It was incredible to play in front of these fans in this arena,” Miller said. “We’ve had it all year long. The attendance record being broken this year is telling. Playing for these type of stakes is what they deserve.”
Jan. 12, 2018 (UD Arena): Dayton 106, VCU 79
Storyline: Dayton’s record stood at 8-8 entering this game, and it needed a victory to record its first back-to-back wins of the season.
What we wrote: The weather outside was frightful. The roads were awful. UD Arena stood alone in a frozen wasteland Friday for the Dayton Flyers as a haven where all the shots fall through the net — well most of them — and dreams do come true, even elusive ones about winning two games in a row.
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Dayton looked like the young, scrappy and hungry team its fans hope to see on a more consistent basis and recorded its second victory of the season against a team picked to finish in the top four of the Atlantic 10, routing Virginia Commonwealth 106-79. Dayton set a school record with 66 points in the first half.
Seventeen games into Anthony Grant’s first season, the Flyers (9-8, 3-2) finally have a winning streak, and they have a winning record for the first time since Nov. 25.
» PHOTOS: Flyers hammer VCU
“I’m obviously proud of the effort our guys put forth tonight,” Grant said. “I thought from the start we played with great energy, great focus, great purpose. It’s great to look at the stat sheet and see the offensive numbers we had: 34 assists on 39 baskets, 17 3s. But what’s impressive to me is our ability on the backboard tonight. We knew that would be a challenge. VCU came in with a 10-plus rebounding margin.”
Feb. 10, 2018 (Siegel Center): VCU 88, Dayton 84 (OT)
Storyline: The Flyers were trying to prove their rout of VCU in the first matchup of the season wasn’t a fluke.
What we wrote: Trey Landers had a decent look at the 3-pointer. It was only his second attempt of the game. He had made the first. With four seconds left in overtime, in his 41st minute of action, he shot what would have been the go-ahead 3-pointer and maybe the game-winner.
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The shot fell well short. That miss wasn't the reason Dayton lost 88-84 in overtime Saturday to Virginia Commonwealth at the Siegel Center. It was just Dayton's last chance.
"I kind of hesitated," Landers said. "I saw the defender coming over. I was about to make an entry pass."
Dayton (11-13, 5-7) missed all six of its 3-point attempts in overtime. VCU (15-10, 7-5) missed both of its 3-point shots in the extra period, but Justin Tillman made 3 of 3 shots in the paint, scoring seven of his 37 points. That was the difference at the end.
Dayton had all the momentum entering overtime thanks to a 16-1 run in the last 3:13 of the second half. Jalen Crutcher, who led the Flyers with 21 points, hit a 3-pointer to start the comeback.
"We just had to stick together and keep playing as a team and keep the ball moving," Crutcher said.
March 8, 2018 (Washington, D.C.): VCU 77, Dayton 72
Storyline: The Flyers entered the A-10 tournament needing to win it to have any chance of playing in the postseason.
What we wrote: The season ended Thursday as it began for the Dayton Flyers — with everything hanging on a lob pass to Josh Cunningham.
Four months after Xeyrius Williams found Cunningham under the basket for a buzzer-beating shot in a victory against Ball State in coach Anthony Grant’s first game, Jalen Crutcher lofted a pass to Cunningham. The Flyers trailed Virginia Commonwealth 72-70 with 34 seconds to play. Cunningham caught the ball but had it stripped away by Mike’l Simms.
VCU’s Malik Crowfield grabbed the loose ball. Then the Rams secured a 77-72 victory in the second round of the Atlantic 10 tournament with four free throws in the final 20 seconds.
With that, Dayton’s slim chance of extending its streaks of 11 straight winning seasons and four straight NCAA tournament appearances ended. The Flyers finished 14-17, the same record they had in 2005-06, the last time they had a losing season. It’s Dayton’s second losing season in the last 19 years.
Jan. 16, 2019 (Siegel Center): VCU 76, Dayton 71
Storyline: The Flyers brought a season-best five-game winning streak into the game.
What we wrote: The basketball left the hands of Jordan Davis, hit the backboard, rolled around the rim and then came to a rest on the back of the rim. Everyone waited for it to fall into the basket or off to the side.
Instead, the ball sat there for four seconds before the officials waved the play dead and awarded the ball to Virginia Commonwealth. It might still be sitting there had Dayton’s Obi Toppin not rushed over at that point to dunk the ball, but the play had ended, and with it, Dayton’s chances of winning at the Siegel Center died.
“It was crazy,” Dayton point guard Jalen Crutcher said. “I’ve never seen that before.”
» TWENTY PHOTOS: Top shots from game
The Flyers (11-6, 3-1) had a chance to stamp themselves as the team to beat in the Atlantic 10 Conference. Instead, the Rams (12-5, 3-1) outscored Dayton 11-2 in the final four minutes to win the game, ending Dayton’s six-game winning streak.
“You’ve got to give them credit,” Dayton coach Anthony Grant said. “We had opportunities, and Evans stepped up and made a big shot there.”
Feb. 16, 2019: VCU 69, Dayton 68
Storyline: Dayton had won four of its last five games and delivered one of the most impressive performances in the previous game, winning 77-48 at Rhode Island.
What we wrote: Anthony Grant will remember the character and the fight of his team during a 22-point comeback most of all, but in the end, the Dayton Flyers suffered a familiar loss to Virginia Commonwealth on Saturday.
Four straight times, the Flyers have fought the Rams to the final minutes. Four straight times in the last two seasons, they have lost winnable games. This defeat, a 69-68 decision in front of a sold-out crowd waving white pom-poms at UD Arena, may hurt more than any because it puts a serious dent in Dayton's dreams of contending for the Atlantic 10 Conference regular-season championship.
» INJURY NEWS: Flyers down one player for VCU game
Marcus Evans, who hit the go-ahead 3-pointer in the final minute in January to beat the Flyers in Richmond, played the role of Dayton-killer again, scoring the winning basket on a layup with six seconds to play.
"To be down 22 with 18 minutes to play, the challenge was to be able to stay together and be able to continue to fight and continue to believe," Grant said, "and we did that in great fashion. Unfortunately, we weren't able to make enough plays at the end of the game, but it wasn't for a lack of effort or belief or togetherness."
Playing with seven scholarship players with Trey Landers sidelined with a shoulder injury, Dayton (16-9, 8-4) almost pulled off a victory that would have moved it into a second-place tie with Virginia Commonwealth (19-6, 10-2) and George Mason (15-10, 9-3). Instead, Dayton finds itself in fourth place heading into a game Tuesday at first-place Davidson (19-6, 10-2).
Dayton trailed 41-29 at halftime and then gave up 10 straight points to start the second half. It got back in the game with a 26-4 run from the 15:00 mark to the 4:50 mark, taking a 60-59 lead on an alley-oop pass from Jalen Crutcher to Obi Toppin.
The Flyers took a 68-67 lead on a basket by Toppin with 15 seconds to play. He was fouled on the shot but missed the free throw. VCU didn’t call timeout and gave the ball to Evans, who split Dwayne Cohill and Josh Cunningham to score in traffic at the rim.
"We knew what we were going to do," VCU coach Mike Rhoades said. "Why call a timeout and let Dayton change its defense and change its matchup."
Dayton’s Jordan Davis had a layup blocked with just under a second to play. The Flyers got the ball out of bounds with 0.7 seconds left but were unable to get off a shot at the end.
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