Grant, Flyers angry after late-game incident with fan in loss to Saint Louis

A former Billiken gets escorted off court after arguing with Dayton’s Malachi Smith

ST. LOUIS, Mo. — Dayton Flyers guard Malachi Smith had never seen his coach, Anthony Grant, so angry.

In Dayton’s 72-61 loss Saturday to Saint Louis at Chaifetz Arena, the ball bounced out of bounds under the basket after a dunk by Saint Louis with 1:38 to play. Smith ran to get it so he could push the ball up the court. The ball rolled to Jordair Jett, a former Saint Louis guard who was inducted into the school’s hall of fame at halftime.

Smith tried to get the ball from Jett, who had it between his legs.

“I wanted to go grab it,” Smith said, “and he was like, ‘Get the (blank) out of my face.’ I said, ‘Chill.’”

There was jawing at that point between Smith and Jett, and Grant ran from the Dayton bench to express his displeasure. He had to be held back by his players as Jett looked on from the baseline.

“You don’t go at a young man trying to compete on the court,” Grant said. “If you’re a fan, you stay in your place. That was weak.”

The officials reviewed the incident, and minutes later, security guards escorted Jett out of the stands to loud applause from the Saint Louis fans.

“I was really (upset) a fan would do that, especially a grown man,” Smith said.

Jett played for Saint Louis from 2010-14 and had his Senior Night ruined by Dayton, which beat the Billikens 72-67 at Chaifetz Arena in 2014. That victory helped Dayton secure a NCAA tournament at-large berth.

Despite the incident at the end of the game, this was a great day for Saint Louis (16-6, 7-2), which ended a five-game losing streak in the series and earned a season split with Dayton (15-8, 7-3) and moved past the Flyers into second place in the Atlantic 10 Conference standings. Dayton now trails Davidson (18-3, 8-1) by two games and Saint Louis by a half game.

The Flyers took a 3-0 lead on a 3-pointer by Kobe Elvis on the opening possession and then gave up a 9-0 run. They played catch-up the rest of the game fell behind by as many as 17 points in the second half.

“I thought we had opportunity to make plays,” Grant said. “We didn’t make the plays that we needed to make, whether it was at the free-throw or the rim. Defensively, we had some breakdowns. They had a few guys who stepped up: the usual cast of characters with (Yuri) Collins and (Gibson) Jimerson. Those guys are really good. But then they had a couple other guys, (Fred) Thatch and (Marten) Linssen who really gave them a boost today and had career nights.”

Collins scored 16 points one game after scoring 35 points and making the game-winning shot at the buzzer in a 92-90 double-overtime victory against George Mason. Jimerson, who averages 19.4 points, scored 14. Thatch had 12 points. Linssen scored 17 points, two off his season high.

Dayton had only one player, Kobe Elvis, in double figures. He scored 20 points and made 4 of 6 3-pointers.

The Flyers couldn’t overcome a slow start that saw them score 10 points in the first 11 minutes and fall behind 19-10.

Elvis made back-to-back 3-pointers in a 23-second span midway through the second half to cut the Saint Louis lead to 46-40. The Billikens answered with two layups by Linssen. Dayton again cut the lead to six points only to have Linssen convert a 3-point play at the 9:35 mark. That started a 9-0 run that doomed Dayton.

For the second time in recent weeks, the Flyers couldn’t build on their biggest A-10 victory .

The Flyers lost 50-49 at George Mason on Jan. 22 four days after beating defending league champion St. Bonaventure 68-50, and on Saturday, they lost to Saint Louis three days after winning 82-52 at Virginia Commonwealth.

The loss dealt another blow to already-slim NCAA tournament at-large hopes that had been gaining steam with three straight victories.

“You kind of just take everything with a grain of salt,” Elvis said. “The wins are going to come. The losses are going to come. We’re young. We’re learning.”


Duquense at Dayton, 7 p.m., Spectrum News 1, 1290, 95.7

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