Dyshawn Pierre shoots a free throw against Rhode Island. David Jablonski/Staff

Declining free-throw accuracy frustrating for Dayton Flyers

It’s no different on the Dayton bench. Watch coach Archie Miller late in the game when a player steps to the line. Sometimes he can barely watch.

The Flyers are shooting 67.3 percent at the line. That ranks 263rd out of 351 Division I teams. In six games in February, they’re shooting 62.7 percent. That ranks 325th.

If their accuracy doesn’t improve, it will be the worst percentage by a UD team since the 2008-09 team shot 64.7 percent. That team finished 27-8. This team is 23-5.

Dayton’s accuracy has declined in recent weeks. In six of the last eight games, it has shot 62 percent or below. It made 8 of 15 (53.3 percent) in a 52-49 victory at Saint Louis on Tuesday and twice missed the front end of the 1-and-1.

At this point in the season, there’s not much that can be done. Miller knows harping on it won’t help. His players just have to find the confidence.

“It’s frustrating. It’s hard,” Miller said. “Part of it is just having a couple guys step up and make a couple. Our last couple games have been disappointing. It’s not just one guy. It’s a lot of guys. I don’t want to make it bigger than it is. The more you talk about it, the more they think about it. We just have to go and do our practice reps, do our stuff.”

Scoochie Smith has struggled the most. He shot 56.7 percent at the line as a freshman (17 of 30) but jumped to 75.5 last season (77 of 102). He’s shooting 63.1 percent this season (70-111).

Smith would have 14 more points if he shot the same percentage as last season. That doesn’t seem like much, but would make a big difference in so many close games.

Dyshawn Pierre shoots 83.1 percent at the line (49-59). Sam Miller shoots 80.8 percent (21 of 26). Kyle Davis, Charles Cooke, Darrell Davis and Xeyrius Williams all shoot over 70 percent. Steve McElvene shoots right at the team average (67.6, 23 of 34). Kendall Pollard, who has missed six games, shoots 56.7 percent (59 of 104). That’s down from 58 percent last season.

“I think part of it is the guys going to the line,” Miller said. “We’ve had some guys going to the line who aren’t making them. Scoochie has struggled all year. Charles struggled at Saint Louis, but he’s a good percentage guy. Dyshawn’s got to get to the line for us to be really successful.”

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