The Dayton Flyers played their best basketball in March the past two seasons. As the calendar turns in 2016 and the madness approaches, they would settle for good basketball or mediocre basketball — anything better than what they put on the floor Saturday at UD Arena.
The Flyers were invincible at home in Atlantic 10 Conference play for over two seasons, winning 20 games in a row. Now they have lost two straight games in front of sellout crowds of 13,455.
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- VIDEO HIGHLIGHTS: Rhode Island vs. UD
Dayton never led in a 75-66 loss to Rhode Island, a team it beat 68-66 on the road 13 days earlier. A player who had scored 19 points all season, 285-pound senior forward Andre Berry, tallied 15 against the Flyers on 7-of-7 shooting. Kendall Pollard returned to the lineup for Dayton after missing four straight games, and the Flyers couldn’t take advantage.
No one knows quite what to make of Dayton’s fall from grace, even coach Archie Miller, whose team was on top of the world with its best ranking since 1967 two weeks ago.
“I want to apologize to our fans,” Miller said. “It’s just an unacceptable performance when we have so much in front of us and such a great crowd. It starts with me. There’s a reason we’re not playing well. I have to figure that out. I promise you this. We will get off the mat.”
Dayton (22-6, 12-4) fell from a three-way tie for first place to third place. Virginia Commonwealth (21-8, 13-3) won 69-65 at George Washington (21-8, 10-6) to move a game ahead of Dayton and a half game ahead of St. Joseph’s (23-5, 12-3), which plays Saint Louis on Sunday.
“Give Rhode Island a ton of credit,” Miller said. “They’ve been dealt a lot of blows during the season with injuries and what not. They continue to work really hard to get better. … I thought they absolutely punched from the beginning. Unlike certain teams we’ve had here, even this team up until a couple weeks ago, we’re not punching back a whole ton, which is disappointing.”
Rhode Island turned an 11-0 lead in the first five minutes into a 38-25 halftime advantage. The Rams shot 57.7 percent from the field in the first half and 54.2 percent in the second half. They made 9 of 17 3-pointers (52.9 percent).
Dyshawn Pierre led Dayton with 17 points. The Flyers shot 41.8 percent from the field and 37.5 percent from 3-point range (6 of 16).
Jared Terrell led the Rams with 18 points on 6-of-8 shooting. Four McGlynn, who missed what would have been a game-winning shot in the final seconds against the Flyers on Feb. 12, scored 16.
“It was truly a remarkable performance by our guys,” Rhode Island coach Dan Hurley said. “Very courageous and impressive.”