The Dayton Flyers earned few style points in their 52-49 overtime victory at Saint Louis on Tuesday. A number of fans on Twitter promised never to talk about the game again. Few will save the game on their DVR next to the 2-year-old recording of the win over Ohio State in the NCAA Tournament or the Iowa game in November.
The Flyers had almost as many turnovers (12) in the first half as points (14). Point guard Scoochie Smith turned the ball over three times in less than two minutes. Forward Bobby Wehrli, who had five points in all of December and January, led the Flyers with five points at halftime.
PREVIEW: Rhode Island vs. Dayton
Somehow the Flyers (22-5, 12-3) escaped. Somehow they find themselves in a three-way tie for first place in the Atlantic 10 with three games to play. Somehow even the youngest players can find perspective in a roller coaster of a season.
“A win is a win, man,” said redshirt freshman center Steve McElvene. “It’s always good. Sometimes you’ve got to win ugly just to show you can win.”
VIDEO: Miller on Rhode Island
On the other hand, a prettier victory at noon Saturday against Rhode Island (15-13, 7-7) would let the Flyer Faithful — not to mention coach Archie Miller — breathe a sigh of relief.
“Right now, spacing’s a problem for us a little bit and then lack of shot making,” Miller said. “We’ve had good looks in our last three or four games, and some of our better shooters aren’t making them — and that happens. What you’re looking for eventually is one or two guys to sort of get you out of that, and on the back side of that, you’ll have more guys getting confidence. You’re going to have moments during the season when things aren’t going well. You have to be able to overcome them. I thought Tuesday was a big big deal overcoming a bad night because guys hung together and played hard.”
The Flyers beat Rhode Island 68-66 on Feb. 12 in Kingston, R.I. Darrell Davis hit a go-ahead 3-pointer with 21 seconds to play. Since that game, the Rams have lost 83-67 at Virginia Commonwealth, beat Duquesne 77-74 and lost 65-54 at Davidson.
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PHOTOS: Dayton vs. Rhode Island
HIGHLIGHTS: Dayton vs. Rhode Island
Junior guard Hassan Martin played his last game of the season Tuesday at Davidson, scoring five points in nine minutes. Rhode Island announced Thursday he won’t play again this season because of tendinitis in his right knee. The Rams lost another All-Atlantic 10 preseason first team pick in the first game of the season, guard E.C. Matthews.
“They’ve had a lot of injuries that have diminished their season,” Miller said. “Their kids play really hard. We had a battle up there not too long ago, and we’ll have a battle in here on Saturday. They always bring out the best in us. Jarvis Garrett, Jared Terrell and Four McGlynn are three guys, who if we’re not ready, we could experience similar things we experienced against St. Bonaventure. They can get going.”
A victory would keep Dayton in the hunt for the A-10 title. St. Joseph’s (23-5, 12-3) hosts Saint Louis on Sunday and then plays at St. Bonaventure and hosts Duquesne in the last week. Virginia Commonwealth (20-8, 12-3) plays at George Washington on Saturday and hosts Davidson and plays at Dayton in the final week.
Dayton plays at Richmond (14-13, 6-9) on Tuesday in its last A-10 road game. The Flyers hope to get Kendall Pollard back before the A-10 tournament starts, though it’s unlikely he’ll play Saturday.
“Everyone goes through (injuries),” Miller said. “We’ve all had guys miss games. Kendall has missed the last four and potentially could miss his fifth on Saturday. That’s why you have a team. That’s why you work at it every day. You need other guys to step up. We’ll have some other guys step up hopefully on Saturday.”