Seventy years ago today, Tom Blackburn was in the middle of his fourth season as Dayton Flyers head coach. He had guided the program to an eight-win improvement in his first season (12-14 in 1947-48) and then to its first winning season (16-12 in 1948-49) since basketball returned to the University of Dayton following World War II and then to its first 20-win season (24-8 in 1949-50).
The 1950-51 season saw Dayton reach even greater heights. The Flyers would finish 27-5 and win three games in their first NIT appearance before losing 62-43 to BYU in the championship game.
Along the way during that banner season, the Flyers at one point won 12 games in a row, and the eighth straight victory came at home on Jan. 17, 1951, against Louisville. Here’s the Dayton Daily News story about that game by Walt McMahon.
Flyers trail for 35 minutes, then win 68-61
Norris leads UD to victory over Louisville
You can’t be on the short end of the score for 35 minutes and 10 seconds of a 40-minute basketball game, but the University of Dayton Flyers did just that Wednesday night as they came from behind in the last 4:50 to cop a 68 to 61 win over Louisville before 3,000 screaming fans, as estimated by Athletic Director Harry Baujan.
And the Flyers came up with their own home-grown Frank Merriwell to fill the hero role of the uphill victory in the burly form of Leland Norris. Burr-headed Junior took up the scoring slack caused by the loss of Don Meineke, who played only about seven minutes of the contest, and Junior racked up 24 points to hold the crumbling Flyers together in the first half with his hard driving and dead-eye set-shooting.
However, it was Meineke, looking pale and ill from the painful effects of his injured shoulder who came into the game (for only the second time) with 3:45 left to net three straight baskets and ice the contest for Dayton.
It was the Flyers’ eighth straight victory and their 11th in 14 starts. The loss broke an eight-game win streak for the visiting Cardinals and is their second defeat against 13 wins. Villanova is the only other college club to beat Louisville this season.
THE GAME LOOKED as if it might turn into a rout during the first half as Louisville led 11-1 before Pete Boyle looped one in back over his head. Vaughn Taylor, who started in place of the ailing Meineke, pivoted in another bucket but the locals couldn’t score again until Taylor tipped in a foul attempt by Norris with 12:20 left to make the scoreboard read 15-6.
Junior cut the Cards’ lead to seven points with 10 minutes to go as he connected on a long set shot but Bill Sullivan came back with a layup for the visitors to run the count to 19 to 11. The loss of Chuck Grigsby with an injured knee at this point hurt the Flyer offense, but the big forward came back to play in the second half with a protective knee guard.
Louisville had its biggest margin with 3:12 to go before intermission as Sullivan hit on a long shot to put the score at 38-19. But six consecutive baskets, two each by Norris and Taylor, and one by Meineke and Gene Hickey brought Dayton back to a 39-30 deficit at halftime.
TOM BLACKBURN’S BOYS began the long climb back in the second half but not before Bob Lochmueller, who led the Cardinals with 15 points, pushed in a two-pointer from the edge of the foul circle.
U.D. countered with scores by Boyle, Hickey, Razer, Campbell and Norris to bring the count to 46-37 when Dick Robison fouled out with 12:37 to go. His loss was immediately felt as Norris stepped up his point-making with a pair of baskets and three free throws to lead the axe work on the Cardinal lead while the previously hard-driving visitors slowed to a walk, making only 8 of 32 field-goal attempts in the second half.
The score stood at 55 to 54 with 4:52 left as Roy Rubin fouled Norris and the “Round Man” proceeded to cash in both charity tosses to put the Flyers in front for the first time, 56-55. But Louisville wasn’t through yet as Bob Brown, who scored all of the Cardinals’ remaining points, hit on a one-hand push shot from far out on the side to give the visitors a one-point lead, 57-56.
BLACKBURN COUNTERED with his ace at this point as Meineke replaced Grigsby in the pivot. Big Monk did what was expected of him as he followed a long shot by Brown with a pivot, shot and a brace of layups to run the count to 64-59 with 1:31 left.
Little Bobby Flynn added two more on a fine jump shot as Brown came back with one of his own to send the count to 66-61 with 50 seconds left.
Both sides moved in on each other in attempts to steal the ball and Campbell fouled out with 42 seconds remaining. The visitors took the ball out of bounds and when Brown fouled Grigsby with 15 seconds to go, the Flyers declined the free throw to retain possession.
Dayton put on a freeze in the waning seconds as Norris dribbled back and forth near mid-court. As time ran out, Junior let one go from the center line which took one bounce off the board and through the net for the final two points.
THE FLYERS MADE 23 shots out of 65 attempts for a 35.4 average, while Louisville, which made 16 out of 31 in the first half for a phenomenal 51.6 percent, dropped off to eight out of 32 for a last half average of 25 percent and a total percent of 38.1.
Meineke made four baskets in five attempts to up his shot average to a blazing .507 but his nine counters lowered his points-per-game average to 20.3. The big center now has 284 points.