The Dayton Flyers and Ohio Bobcats could have saved everyone some gas money by meeting in Chillicothe or Washington Court House, whatever would have been an acceptable halfway point between Dayton and Athens.
Of course, two fan bases that know how to have fun were already gathered in Charleston, enjoying the sights, sounds and temperatures on King Street, Folly Beach and elsewhere. Maybe someday Dayton and Ohio will play in the Buckeye State. For now, this matchup will have to do, and just like 1965 when they last met, the Flyers had the edge.
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Dayton advanced to the fifth-place game at the Charleston Classic with a 79-65 victory Friday at TD Arena. The Flyers bounced back with their most complete performance of the season one day after losing 72-69 to Hofstra. They will play Old Dominion at 3:30 p.m. Sunday on ESPN3.
“Obviously, the disappointment from yesterday was fresh in everybody’s mind,” coach Anthony Grant said. “The thing we challenged the guys with was to be able to flush that and understand that we had a really good opponent in Ohio, an in-state rival. We had to take care of ourselves today, and we did what we needed to do from and offensive and defensive standpoint. I’m really proud of the effort we came out with today.”
Lead is 65-53 with 8:25 left. Kostas may lead nation in dunks this season. pic.twitter.com/4977gQiddR— David Jablonski (@DavidPJablonski) November 18, 2017
Here are five takeaways from the second victory of the season:
1. Star turn: Senior guard Darrell Davis set his career high in scoring for the second straight night. He had 20 points against Hofstra and scored 25 against Ohio.
Davis made 7 of 13 shots from the field, 3 of 7 3-pointers and 8 of 8 free throws.
“I’m just playing confident and not worried about a missed shot,” Davis said. “I’m having a short-term memory about a missed shot and going to the next shot.”
Josh Cunningham sends an Ohio defender back to Athens. Flyers lead 71-60 with 3:24 left. pic.twitter.com/diTCCFlIlZ— David Jablonski (@DavidPJablonski) November 18, 2017
2. Better game: Dayton redshirt junior forward Josh Cunningham battled foul trouble for the second straight night but scored 18 points and grabbed 19 rebounds. It was the most rebounds by a Dayton player since Chris Johnson had 20 in 2010.
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Cunningham had seven points and two rebounds in 14 minutes Thursday and didn’t return to the game after picking up his fourth foul midway through the second half. He picked up his fourth foul with 12:49 left in this game but returned to the game with 8:25 to go and didn’t foul again.
“It’s very frustrating,” Cunningham said. “This is our third game. Two days back-to-back foul trouble is no fun at all. It’s on me. It’s something I can control. I’ve just got to do better and be smarter.”
3. Freshman effort: Guard Jordan Davis scored a career-high 10 points. Davis had the best night of his young career with about 15 family members and friends in the stands. He’s from Dutch Fork High School in Irmo, S.C., a 90-minute drive from Charleston.
“It felt really good,” Davis said. “My teammates kept me confident and told me to keep shooting the ball. That’s what I did.”
4. Bouncing back: The Flyers improved to 2-1 and didn’t need to go down to the wire in this one. They took the lead for good at the 14:41 mark in the first half, led 41-32 at halftime and led by at least eight points for the last 18 minutes of the game.
“We knew there were things we had to fix when we watched the film,” Cunningham said. “We fixed those things. We just came out with more energy. Our attitude was headed in the right direction.”
5. Rebounding edge: The Flyers beat the Bobcats 40-30 on the boards. Cunningham led the way. Xeyrius Williams had seven. Jalen Crutcher had four.
“It was huge,” Grant said. “We got hurt on the glass quite a bit yesterday. That’s an area where we need our team to improve.”