Dissecting Dayton’s 19-0, game-changing run against Illinois-Chicago

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Highlights: Dayton's 19-0 run vs. UIC on Nov. 9, 2021

Flyers turn a nine-point deficit in second half into a 10-point lead in season opener

The Dayton Flyers didn’t need the last-second heroics of Jordan Sibert, whose 3-pointer saved the team in the season opener against Fort Wayne eight years ago. They didn’t need need the miracle lob of 2017 when Xeyrius Williams found Josh Cunningham under the basket for the winning shot in the final seconds against Ball State.

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To extend its winning streak in season openers to 17 games, Dayton needed the well-rested lungs of the Flyer Faithful, most of whom had not seen a game live in 20 months. A sellout crowd of 13,407 — a number Dayton will see in all 17 home games — got loud in the final 10 minutes. The Flyers rode the noise to a 64-54 victory against Illinois-Chicago at UD Arena.

“I think everyone knows what happened,” guard R.J. Blakney said. “It’s the fans, man. The fans definitely helped us. The fans were so loud we weren’t even tired anymore. Whatever tiredness we had was gone. We just played hard from that point.”

While the fans provided the fuel for a second-half comeback from a nine-point deficit, the players did their part. Their ability to overcome adversity should pay dividends in the season ahead.

“Give Illinois-Chicago credit,” Dayton coach Anthony Grant said. “I thought they came in and battled. They had a great game plan. They executed it. But thankfully our guys were able to find a way to come up with the win. And like I always tell them it’s always great when you can learn while winning. Hopefully, we can take some of these lessons and build upon them for next week.”

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Anthony Grant interview: Nov. 9, 2021

This game turned on a 19-0 run in a seven-minute span in the final 10 minutes. Here’s how that run transpired:

1. Doing what works: Kobe Elvis made the only 3-pointer during the run, and that was one of only two Dayton made in the game. Dayton scored six points at the free-throw line during the spurt. The other 10 points came on shots at the basket.

The Flyers shot 14.3 percent (2 of 14) from 3-point range in the game and 22 of 37 (59.4 percent) from 2-point range.

“In the first half, we went 1 for 10 from the 3-point line,” Grant said, “and I thought in the first half, we were having success when we attacked the basket. We turned down some opportunities to go inside. In the first half, that didn’t work out for us. So in the second half, the emphasis was made that we have an advantage. Let’s take advantage of the advantage. I thought our guys tried to do that either by throwing it to the post or by attacking the basket off the drive.”

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Dayton Flyers interviews (Nov. 9, 2021): R.J. Blakney and Toumani Camara

2. Getting stops: UIC took control of the game with a 19-2 in the final seven minutes of the first half, building a 32-25 halftime lead. It made 6 of 13 3-pointers in the half and then made two more in the first 10 minutes of the second half, extending its lead to 46-37.

During Dayton’s 19-0 run, the Flames missed nine straight shots, four of them from 3-point range. Dayton gave up eight points in the last 10 minutes, holding UIC to 36.8 percent shooting in the game.

“I thought the last 12 minutes, defensively, the guys did an unbelievable job,” Grant said.

“I think the 3-pointer is really big in the first half,” Dayton forward Toumani Camara said, “because in the second half fatigue is a big factor. We really locked in on that, and it was a really big point of emphasis. Being able to stop the 3-pointer and being able to stick our hands up and go out and guard and not get beat, that was important.”

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Dayton's Koby Brea and Christian Wilson leave the court after a victory against Illinois-Chicago on Tuesday, Nov. 9, 2021, at UD Arena. David Jablonski/Staff

Credit: David Jablonski

Dayton's Koby Brea and Christian Wilson leave the court after a victory against Illinois-Chicago on Tuesday, Nov. 9, 2021, at UD Arena. David Jablonski/Staff

Credit: David Jablonski

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Dayton's Koby Brea and Christian Wilson leave the court after a victory against Illinois-Chicago on Tuesday, Nov. 9, 2021, at UD Arena. David Jablonski/Staff

Credit: David Jablonski

Credit: David Jablonski

3. Big-time baskets: Camara, a transfer from Georgia who led the team with 15 points and 10 rebounds in his Dayton debut, scored the first basket of the run at the 10:32 mark and had one more basket later in the run. He was on the bench for 13 of the points.

Elijah Weaver, in the first game of his second season with the Flyers, scored six of his eight points during the run. He made the game-tying free throws with 8:40 to play and then the go-ahead layup 40 seconds later. He also scored the last two of the 19 points on a layup with 4:04 to play as Dayton stretched its lead to 56-46.

Another second-year Flyer, Mustapha Amzil, scored three points, all at the free-throw line, during the run. He finished with five points. Blakney scored one point during the run. He finished with nine points.

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The DePaul transfer Elvis and freshman DaRon Holmes combined for the other five of the 19 points. Elvis started at point guard and scored 10 points. Holmes, the first true freshman to start for Dayton in nine years, tallied nine points.

Dayton showed what it can be during the decisive stretch but also showed why this could be an up-and-down season as it struggled to beat a team picked to finish eighth in the Horizon League.

“It’s a good sign that we can handle adversity and bounce back from all the bumps,” Blakney said. “We’ve just got to just continue to do that. There’s going to be more times we’ll be down. We’ve just got to keep fighting.”

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