Flyers will try to rebound Sunday at home against Virginia Tech
There was no moral victory Wednesday for the Dayton Flyers. True, they didn’t get blown out in their first true road game of the season and they did rally from a 15-point deficit against Southern Methodist to give themselves a chance in the final minute .
In the end, Dayton still lost 77-69 at Moody Coliseum in Dallas, Texas, failing to record the first six-game non-conference winning streak since the 2009-10 season
“We’ve got to be better,” Dayton coach Anthony Grant said Friday before practice at the Cronin Center on campus. “Coming into it, you’re always concerned with how your team is going to react when you go on the road in a different environment. I think we could have played better. I think we could have put ourselves in a better position than we did.”
Dayton did continue to show signs it’s not the same team that lost to UMass Lowell, Lipscomb and Austin Peay in an eight-day stretch at UD Arena in November. It fell behind by double digits in the second half against Lipscomb and mounted no serious comeback. The last two times, it has faced similar situations — against Kansas and SMU — it has found a way back into the game, and the comeback against Kansas led to a 74-73 victory.
Dayton’s comeback against SMU began with a 3-pointer by Mustapha Amzil with 3:08 to play. After two free throws by Elijah Weaver and a layup by Smith, Amzil hit another 3-pointer with 44 seconds remaining to cut the SMU lead to 70-67.
“It kind of clicked for us late, and we made a run,” Smith said. “I feel like we had a few chances to win the game.”
“It just shows how much potential we have,” Dayton forward DaRon Holmes II said, “and how good we can be if we’re just locked in and focused from the start. We weren’t playing our true game at the beginning. Toward the end, we started to pick it up and finally got locked in.”
Dayton (6-4) plays one more game against Virginia Tech (7-3) at 2 p.m. Sunday before taking a one-week break for exams. It will be a different atmosphere at sold-out UD Arena compared to Wednesday at SMU, where Dayton faced its first true road environment of the season.
The Flyers hope the experience pays off in future games. They have one more non-conference road game Dec. 18 at Mississippi and will play on the road nine times in Atlantic 10 Conference play.
“It was the first time they were in an unfamiliar environment where they didn’t have the majority of the fans or an even number of fans,” Grant said. “You have to have the ability to echo calls and the ability to listen and pay attention to what we need to be able to do on both sides of the ball. Anytime you’re on the road, you have to rely on your habits. You have to be able to hold yourself accountable, or your opponent will. We have to get better habits.”
Virginia Tech at Dayton, 2 p.m., ESPN2, 1290, 95.7