- David Jablonski Staff Writer
Saint Mary’s doesn’t wait long to retire numbers. Matthew Dellavedova finished his college career in 2013. His number already hangs above the court at McKeon Pavilion.
The Dayton Flyers may have noticed that Tuesday. They also may have noted a related item hanging on the wall near one basket, an Australian flag. Dellavedova, the former Cleveland Cavalier known as Delly, is Australian, as are six of the current Gaels, most notably their 6-foot-11 senior center Jock Landale.
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That’s an easy name to remember and one Dayton fans would like to forget. Landale posted a double-double in a 61-57 victory at UD Arena last season and did it again in the rematch, dominating the final minutes in a 69-54 victory.
Landale had 14 points, making 7 of 9 shots, and 11 rebounds. He scored 12 points in the second half, including four during a decisive 14-0 run late in the second half.
“The big guy inside was able to go to work in the second half and get some easy stuff at the rim,” Dayton coach Anthony Grant said. “We had a tough time in man and zone being able to contain him, whether it was scoring in the post or offensive rebounding, and that obviously opened up the 3-point line for them. They’re one of the best offensive teams in the country. We knew that coming in that we would have to do a good job in those areas.”
Landale was one reason the Flyers fell to 5-6 and 0-2 in true road games. Here are four more:
1. Darrell Davis didn’t make a shot: The consistency of Davis has been one bright spot for the Flyers in this rebuilding year. He scored in double figures in nine of the first 10 games and had increased his scoring average by 12.6 points from his junior season.
Davis had the worst offensive night of his career against the Gaels, missing all 11 of his field-goal attempts. He missed three 3-pointers and eight shots inside the arc. He didn’t score in 35 minutes.
“That’s just basketball,” Grant said. “Darrell’s a good player. He’ll have those nights where he can’t miss. He couldn’t find the bottom of the net tonight. We’ll keep fighting. We had opportunities. At the end of the day, we’ve just got to keep moving forward.”
2. Dayton couldn’t sustain its first-half performance: The Flyers trailed 13-8 seven minutes into the game. They took control with a 12-0 run in a two-minute span.
Kostas Antetokounmpo hit a fall-away jumper. Jordan Davis hit a 3-pointer. Josh Cunningham converted a three-point play. Jalen Crutcher made a layup. Xeyrius Williams hit a 3-pointer.
Those baskets came on five consecutive possessions. Dayton led by as many as seven points in the first half and 31-29 at halftime.
That advantage proved short-lived. Saint Mary’s opened the second half on a 12-2 run. Still Dayton right itself and cut Saint Mary’s lead to 49-46 on a 3-pointer by Cunningham with 7:06 to play.
At that point, the Flyers missed five straight shots. The Gaels made two free throws and then four straight shots in their 14-0 run.
“It was a great program win,” Saint Mary’s coach Randy Bennett said. “I thought that was the best non-conference team we played this year. People out here don’t know about Dayton. They draw a huge crowd every game, and they have for decades. They are a high level program. Last year, we snuck one from them out there, so this year we knew they were going to be ready to play. We knew they had a good team and a good program. We have a ton of respect for them. So that was probably as good as we felt after a win this year because we knew we beat somebody good.”
3. Three-point defense continues to be a problem: The Gaels made 9 of 23 3-pointers (39.1 percent). In the second half, they made 6 of 11 (54.5). Opponents have shot 39 percent or better from long range against Dayton in five of the last six games.
Saint Mary’s forward Calvin Hermanson did the most damage. He missed his first four 3-pointers in the first half but made 4 of 5 in the second half and finished with 17 points.
“Emmett (Naar) was in my ear all game long, saying ‘Just keep shooting,’” Hermanson said. “He even got mad at me for not shooting enough in the first half. Our team is that unselfish that we get on other guys to shoot more.”
4. Cunningham didn’t get the ball enough in the post: After making 30 of 32 shots in the last four games, Cunningham took only two shots in the first half and made one. He made 2 of 5 in the second half and finished with nine points and eight rebounds.
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The Flyers took care of the ball, committing only six turnovers. They also shot a respectful percentage from long range (9 of 26, 34.6). What hurt them was missing jump shots inside the arc or shots at the rim. That has been a strength all season, but they made 12 of 34 in this game (35.3 percent).
“We struggled to have any level of consistency in the second half,” Grant said. “I’ll go back and look at the film. Maybe it was some things they did defensively, but the lane was really clogged. We had a tough time generating stuff at the rim. When Josh was able to get opportunities at the rim, he did a good job, but they did a good job of showing a crowd anytime we tried to drive the ball or threw the ball into the post.”