The No. 22 Dayton Flyers won a game that could only fall into the category of Best Worst Game Ever — or at least of this season.
The Flyers committed 17 turnovers, shot 24 percent (6 of 25) from 3-point range, made 8 of 15 free throws, scored 14 points in the first half and somehow rallied to beat Saint Louis 52-49 in overtime Tuesday at Chaifetz Arena.
“It’s definitely a big-time win for us coming off two losses,” said senior forward Bobby Wehrli. “It’s not something we’re used to. It’s big for us to get off the mat and get one. Hopefully, we can keep it going.”
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The Flyers (22-5, 12-3) ended their first two-game losing streak in more than two years and cut Virginia Commonwealth’s lead in the Atlantic 10 to a half game. The Rams (20-7, 12-2) can push their lead back to a full game if they win at George Mason tonight.
“I’m more happy we won this game than any game this season,” Dayton coach Archie Miller said. “We’re not a confident group right now. We got knocked to the mat. We’ve had some guys who were down for the first time in a long time. Starting that game, we were unsure of ourselves. We stayed with it. We hung tough. This game means more to us than most we played all season because we were able to find a way to win when things weren’t going well.”
Dayton won with a dominant defensive effort in the final minutes of the second half and overtime. The Billikens, who lost 73-37 at UD Arena in January, didn’t make a field goal in the last seven minutes of regulation. They made one field goal in overtime, and that came on an uncontested layup in the final seconds.
Scoochie Smith, who led the Flyers with 16 points, hit the tying layup with 36 seconds left in regulation to send the game to overtime at 46-46. Kyle Davis, who scored 13 points and led the Dayton comeback in the second half, opened the scoring in overtime with a 3-pointer.
“We spent a lot of time since last week really talking about how we have to play to be successful,” Miller said. “Part of it is playing very hard on defense. I thought our guys established a way of playing defense tonight. I give Bobby Wehrli a lot of credit. We had to figure out a way to generate some momentum with our system defensively, and he knows it. We fired him out there, and we don’t win without him.”
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