The Dayton Flyers took a 69-65 lead into the final four minutes after baskets by Ryan Mikesell and Jalen Crutcher on Wednesday at Virginia Commonwealth.
While Dayton fans may have felt good entering that stretch, they couldn’t have felt comfortable because they have seen the team fade at the end of games several times this season. While Dayton pulled out close victories against Georgia Southern, George Washington and Massachusetts during a six-game winning streak, it has failed to finish games against the better teams. Mississippi State outscored Dayton 15-5 down the stretch. Oklahoma and Tulsa broke open close games in the final 10 minutes.
In a 76-71 loss at the Siegel Center, Dayton saw VCU outscore it 11-2 in the final four minutes. The UD defense got enough stops. The offense, Crutcher admitted, got stagnant.
“I’ll look at the last four minutes,” Dayton coach Anthony Grant said. “I thought we had decent looks. They didn’t go down for us.”
After taking that four-point lead, here’s what Dayton’s offense did in the key stretch.
Dayton ended a nearly four-minute scoring drought on a basket by Cunningham with four seconds to play.
“We had some layups and stuff,” Mikesell said. “I think I had a shot in the corner I should have knocked down. I think we were getting shots. I think we just can’t get caught up with the time, and we need to flow into our offense and get out in transition. Just because it’s at the end of the game doesn’t mean you shouldn’t get out running and get easy buckets.”
VCU ranks second in the A-10 in average home attendance (7,637) this season behind Dayton (12,875). Saint Louis (6,796) ranks third. As a whole, the league averages 4,540 fans per home game. Duquesne (1,860) and Fordham (1,528) rank at the bottom in attendance.
Dayton takes a charter flight into Bradford, Pa., which is 21 miles southwest of Olean, on Friday. With snow in the forecast Saturday, Dayton may have trouble getting out of Olean.