VCU hands Dayton most lopsided loss in three years

VCU's Corey Douglas Jr. and Dayton's Ibi Watson, left, and Jordy Tshimanga vie for a loose ball in the Siegel Center in Richmond, Va., Sat., Jan. 23, 2021. Alexa Welch Edlund/Richmond Times-Dispatch

Credit: RICHMOND TIMES-DISPATCH

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VCU's Corey Douglas Jr. and Dayton's Ibi Watson, left, and Jordy Tshimanga vie for a loose ball in the Siegel Center in Richmond, Va., Sat., Jan. 23, 2021. Alexa Welch Edlund/Richmond Times-Dispatch

Credit: RICHMOND TIMES-DISPATCH

Three-game winning streak ends thanks mostly to 13-point first-half

The Dayton Flyers tied the school record for fewest points scored in a half, flirted with the record for fewest points scored in a game and narrowly avoided the worst loss of the Anthony Grant era on Saturday in Richmond, Va.

Virginia Commonwealth, coming off a meltdown of its own in a 70-54 loss Wednesday at St. Bonaventure, watched Dayton fall apart in the first half, and the situation didn’t improve much in the second half for the Flyers as they lost 66-43 at the Siegel Center.

“When you don’t see the shots fall and the lead starts to swell on their end, you’ve got a choice to make,” said Dayton coach Anthony Grant said in a phone interview after the game. “How do you handle adversity? We weren’t able to recover at any point.”

Dayton (8-4, 4-3) saw its three-game winning streak end. Virginia Commonwealth, swept by Dayton in two games a season ago, improved to 11-4 and 4-2. The Flyers face an even tougher test in their next game. They play No. 25 Saint Louis (7-1, 0-0) at 8:30 p.m. Tuesday at Chaifetz Arena in St. Louis.

“As bad as it is, it’s over with,” Dayton center Jordy Tshimanga said, “and we’ve got to look forward.”

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VCU was outscored 45-14 by the Bonnies in the second half in their last game and outscored Dayton 33-13 in the first half. Dayton tied the school record for fewest points scored in a half. Dayton scored 13 points in the first half against Temple on Feb. 24, 2010, and lost 49-41.

Against VCU, Dayton shot 21 percent from the field (6 of 28) in the first half, missing all eight of its 3-point attempts. It finished 3 of 20 from 3-point range. Tshimanga led the Flyers with six points in the half and finished with 10, tying Zimi Nwokeji for the team lead.

“They definitely hindered us from flowing into our stuff like we usually do,” Nwokeji said. “However frustrating it was, there was no excuse for not being able to bounce back.”

It was Dayton’s lowest scoring half since it scored 16 in the first half against Saint Louis on Feb. 24, 2016. Dayton won that game 52-49 in overtime.

Dayton never mounted a comeback in the second half. To win the game, it would have had to match the school record for the largest halftime deficit overcome in a victory. On Jan. 31, 1987, when Grant was a senior, Dayton rallied from a 43-23 deficit against Cincinnati to win 67-64.

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Dayton did manage to avoid the worst loss of the last four seasons under Grant. An 81-56 loss to Rhode Island on Feb. 23, 2018, remains the most lopsided defeat of the Grant era. This was the lowest-scoring game of the Grant era by 10 points, topping a 71-53 loss at La Salle on Feb. 28, 2018.

Nah’Shon Hyland led VCU with 28 points. VCU held Dayton to 30.9 percent shooting (17 of 55), the worst shooting performance by the Flyers since they made 17 of 55 against La Salle in a 61-57 loss on Jan. 9, 2016.

VCU held Dayton’s top two scorers, Jalen Crutcher and Ibi Watson, to nine points on 4-of-17 shooting. Crutcher, held to a season-low four points, 15.5 below his average, did not play the last nine minutes.

“They made it difficult for him,” Grant said. “They put two on him. The rotations forced him to really work to find open teammates.”

NOTES: Freshman guard Luke Frazier made his Dayton debut in the second half. He had been sidelined since mid-December after undergoing an appendectomy. .... La Salle (7-8, 4-4) won 84-78 at preseason favorite Richmond (9-4, 3-2) on Saturday. The Explorers have beaten two of the top-three teams in the A-10 preseason poll: Dayton and Richmond.

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