Josh Cunningham took the game over for a two-minute stretch Saturday for the Dayton Flyers, trimming a 58-50 deficit against Massachusetts to 58-56 all by himself.
It was too little too late, however, for Dayton, which lost 62-60 to Massachusetts at UD Arena.
Cunningham didn’t get a shot in the last three minutes, and though coach Anthony Grant said he was the first option on the last play, Darrell Davis took the final shot, missing a layup at the buzzer. Cunningham got in position to post up before the final shot but didn’t get a pass from Trey Landers.
» ARCHDEACON: Flyers may need their heads examined, Grant implies
Dayton, which plays at Richmond at 7 p.m. Tuesday, fell to 7-8 and 1-2 in the Atlantic 10. An inability to get the ball to Cunningham in the post is a running theme this season. He has been one of the most efficient scorers in the country from 2-point range.
Cunningham scored 12 points on 4-of-9 shooting in 31 minutes.
“We wanted to get the ball inside to Josh,” Dayton coach Anthony Grant said. “With the way we struggled to have consistency off the perimeter after the first eight to 10 minutes, we felt like we could have success getting the ball inside to him.”
At the halfway point of the regular season, Cunningham is shooting 73.2 percent from 2-point range. He ranks 11th in the country. Dayton is 4-1 when he takes at least 10 shots from the field. It’s 2-3 when he takes fewer than eight shots.
» GAME STORY: Grant says energy and focus were lacking for Dayton
Cunningham took only five shots in the previous game, an 82-72 victory against St. Bonaventure, but Davis scored 28 points. Davis scored 10 points against UMass and was limited by foul trouble. He picked up his fourth early in the second half.
Cunningham got four shots in the first four minutes of the second half but then didn’t get another shot for almost 10 minutes. He made a concerted effort to call for the ball and back down defenders once Dayton fell behind by eight points.
“I think we could have used him way earlier,” forward Xeyrius Williams said. “They were trying to switch a lot. Getting him in there with mismatches and things like that, they were undersized. We probably attacked it too late.”
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