Dayton’s sixth A-10 loss follows some familiar themes

Dayton players, including Luke Frazier, right, take the court before a game against Virginia Commonwealth on Tuesday, Feb. 9, 2021, at UD Arena in Dayton. David Jablonski/
Dayton players, including Luke Frazier, right, take the court before a game against Virginia Commonwealth on Tuesday, Feb. 9, 2021, at UD Arena in Dayton. David Jablonski/

Credit: David Jablonski

Credit: David Jablonski

Poor 3-point shooting one of Dayton’s biggest problems in losses

One of the CBS Sports Network broadcasters calling Dayton’s game against Rhode Island on Tuesday said the Atlantic 10 Conference could see as many as six teams make the NCAA tournament.

Dayton Flyers fans blinked twice, shook their heads and then expressed their astonishment on social media with their favorite memes, knowing how inaccurate that assessment was. A year after Dayton put itself in contention for a No. 1 seed before the the NCAA tournament was cancelled by the coronavirus pandemic, no A-10 is considered a lock for the tournament just over three weeks from Selection Sunday.

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Saint Louis, St. Bonaventure, Virginia Commonwealth and Richmond are still in the running for at-large bids. Someone will receive the automatic bid by winning the A-10 tournament in Richmond. That’s the only path for UD, though its inconsistent play in January and February has given little indication it’s capable of winning four games in four days.

Dayton’s 91-89 loss in double overtime at Rhode Island provided the latest example of why fans should not get their hopes up about the Flyers (11-7, 7-6) finding some March magic. Dayton’s sixth A-10 loss followed some familiar themes. Here’s how it compares to the other five:

1. Blowing a big lead

Dayton had a 16-2 lead against La Salle in the opening minutes and built an 18-point lead midway through the second half against Rhode Island. Rhode Island climbed back in the game with a 19-5 run from the 9:32 to the 4:57 mark. Dayton committed six of its 16 turnovers in the final 10 minutes.

“Nothing they did tonight was really a surprise,” Grant said. “We didn’t do what we had to do defensively. Turnovers and offensive rebounds continue to be an issue from game one to whatever game we’re on right now. They’ve been there all year. It continues to plague us, and that’s on me as a coach. I have to get guys to understand what’s required, whether it’s seniors or first-year guys. We didn’t get it done tonight. Our pick-and-roll coverage, transition defense, our offensive rebounding, our ability to take care of basketball, it let us down tonight, and they were able to put themselves in position where it became anybody’s game.”

2. Struggling from long range

Dayton made 5 of 26 3-pointers (19.2 percent) against Rhode Island. It also shot below 20 percent in losses at VCU and Fordham and below 25 percent in losses to La Salle and Duquesne.

3. Messing up the final play

In the final seconds against La Salle, Mustapha Amzil’s in-bounds pass to Jalen Crutcher was intercepted, and Dayton did not get off a shot.

In a 55-54 loss at Fordham on Jan. 5, Dayton struggled to a play going in the final seconds, and Ibi Watson was fortunate to get one off before the buzzer but missed.

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On Tuesday, Dayton had to go the length of the court to score with three seconds left to beat Rhode Island or send the game to a third overtime.

Amzil dropped R.J. Blakney’s in-bounds pass near midcourt, and Dayton did not get off a shot.

4. Wasting a strong performance

In a 67-65 loss to La Salle on Dec. 30 in the first A-10 game of the season, Dayton lost despite getting 22 points from freshman Mustapha Amzil in his first game. Jalen Crutcher scored 28 points, one short of his career high, in a 69-64 loss at Duquesne on Feb. 2.

Against Rhode Island (10-12, 7-8), redshirt freshman Zimi Nwokeji scored a career-high 29 points. He made 9 of 10 field goals and 9 of 11 free throws. His previous best was 10 points. It was the one silver lining for a team that will try to avoid its first three-game A-10 losing streak since 2014 when it plays Saint Louis at 7 p.m. Friday at UD Arena.

“I’ve been trying to play with more confidence,” Nwokeji said, “and believe in myself more.”

FRIDAY’S GAME

Saint Louis at Dayton, 7 p.m., ESPN, 1290, 95.7

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