On this date: UD Arena opened its doors 51 years ago on Dec. 6

Hal McCoy wrote the game story when the Dayton Flyers opened UD Arena with a game against Bowling Green on Dec. 6, 1969 — 50 years ago today.

McCoy, a Hall of Fame baseball writer, is still covering Dayton games in person during the 2020-21 season for Press Pros Magazine, and he continues to write regularly about the Cincinnati Reds for the Dayton Daily News.

In December 1969, McCoy will still a little more than three years away from covering the Reds on a daily basis. He and Si Burick, another Hall of Fame baseball writer, provided the Dayton Daily News coverage of the first game at UD Arena. Burick wrote a story with the headline, “A night of many firsts at Dayton’s new arena,” while McCoy focused on how the game was won.

McCoy’s story below details how the Flyers won a close game at home, but the home-court edge wasn’t an immediate advantage in the early days of UD Arena. The Flyers lost their second home game 64-62 to Cincinnati and third 66-64 to Miami.

Here’s a look back at the game against Bowling Green.

An old play works for UD, 72-70

Dayton’s Flyers put a new twist on the old saying, “Charity begins at home.”

A new home began with charity Saturday night as the new University of Dayton arena opened before 13,450 fans.

The Flyers’ first game in their new edifice turned into a charity affair as UD used six straight free throws — and no baskets — in the final two minutes to put down pesky Bowling Green 72-70.

And, the Flyers themselves were in a charitable mood toward their somewhat awed guests toward the finish in the opening game for both teams.

George Janky, who was Faith, Hope and Charity all wrapped into one for the Flyers, sank two free throws with 29 seconds left, and UD led 72-68.

THE FALCONS were not dead birds — in fact they were merely dying Quayle in the final hectic seconds. BG’s Bob Quayle found the net with a long jumper with 17 seconds left and cut it to 72-70.

That’s when the Flyers got too charitable for Coach Don Donoher and lost in the inbounds pass to Quayle. This time, his shot missed, and the ball bounded out of bounds with three seconds left.

Donoher called time and set up an inbounds play ... and sophomores Al Bertke and Pat Murnen saved things. Bertke passed into Murnen and Pat hung on as the buzzer told BG it was too late.

BG’S BOB CONIBEAR tried strategy of his own, sticking 6-7 jumping jack Dan McLemore in front of Dayton’s 6-1 Bertke, who was taking the ball out.

“That was a lot of man ... I couldn’t see anything,” said Bertke. “I faked a pass over his head, he leaped up and I bounced it under him to Pat in the corner. I couldn’t believe it then. Three guys swarmed all over Pat, but he did a great job of holding onto the ball.”

Donoher sat nervously on the bench, visions of New York’s Madison Square Garden dancing in his head ... and not just because UD Arena is a miniature Madison Square Garden. It was in the garden a year ago when Davidson stole an inbounds pass and Mike Maloy found the bottom of the net at the buzzer to beat Dayton.

“That’s why we set up the inbounds play,” said Donoher. “We just wanted to get the pass in. We weren’t interested in any more Davidsons.”

BEHIND JANKY’S solid under-the-basket virtuosity, Dayton built a 17-point lead in the first half, 37-20. And, Jim Gottschall flung in a pair of jumpers to start the second half and UD was in front, 43-27.

That’s when the Flyers turned charitable with eight turnovers in the next seven minutes ... and Bowling Green crept back to within 47-41. From there on, things were touch-and-go ... mostly UD touching and BG going.

The Falcons came within three at 61-58 with 5½ minutes to go.

THAT’S WHEN BG turned into a charitable organization. May shoveled a football pass at Janky ... and Big George stuffed it in and was fouled. His free throw made it 64-58, but BG wouldn’t quit.

May hit a tip and two free throws. But Rick Walker, BG’s high man with 20 points, made three baskets, and Jim Connally one and it was 68-66 with a minute left.

Jim Gottschall made two free throws and BG retaliated with a jumper by Dan McLemore with 35 seconds to go, and it was 70-68. Janky’s two free throws followed ... then the hectic conclusion that thrilled the 13,450 fans.

“You have to give credit to BG,” said Donoher. “They put together an offense in the second half. We got them down by 16, but they came right back up. Even with a big lead, we never got command.

“Our inexperience showed. It will take us awhile to put it all together. We didn’t look anything like we did in practice. But we got those good clutch free throws. We came within one missed free throw of overtime or getting licked.”

WHILE THE Flyers were making those six straight free throws in the final two minutes, they went five minutes without a basket as Donoher put them in a controlled offense.

Janky, displaying hooks, drives and tip-in shots, poured in 26 points and led both teams with is 15 rebounds.

“We told our guys to stay behind Janky, and that’s what they did,” said BG’s Conibear. “Only we didn’t stop him. When he backed in, he backed up, too, and acted like traffic cops directing him toward the basket.”

Janky was in agreement.

“My hook shot was working because Connally was letting me get the ball and wheel on him. And those two clutch free throws Jimmy Gottschall made were something.”

Funny thing. Gottschall said the same thing.

“Those two free throws George made were really something,” he said. “Let’s face it. George played the game. He won the game.”

As we said, everyone was in a charitable mood ... and not just because the Flyers made 26 of 33 free throws.

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