The Dayton Flyers rallied from a 21-point second-half deficit only to lose 61-59 to Mississippi State on a last-second shot Sunday night in Starkville, Miss.
Dayton had a chance to take the last shot, but Darrell Davis turned the ball over with 8 seconds to play. Quinndary Weatherspoon took the ball the other way and scored on a layup with 0.8 seconds to play.
The Flyers trailed 35-20 at halftime and faced their biggest deficit, 41-20, in the opening minutes of the second half. If Dayton had won the game, it would have been the third-largest halftime deficit the program has overcome in its history.
“I thought our guys showed some resiliency, some toughness,” Dayton coach Anthony Grant said on WHIO Radio after the game. “We dug a hole for ourselves with 16 first-half turnovers. We struggled to find the basket, not only taking care of (the ball), but I thought we got some looks we’re capable of making that didn’t fall for us. That’s going to happen. It’s the game of basketball.”
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The Flyers fall to 3-4. It’s their worst start since they were 3-4 in the 1994-95 season.
It was fitting the game turned on a turnover because Dayton committed 26 turnovers. The Bulldogs (7-0) committed 24. Three Flyers had five turnovers: Kostas Antetokounmpo, Davis and Jalen Crutcher.
Davis tied the game at 59-59 by making 1 of 2 free throws with 1:09 to play. Mississippi State turned the ball over with 49.3 seconds to play. Crutcher missed a 3-pointer with 28 seconds to play, but the Flyers got the offensive rebound. The turnover by Davis followed.
Crutcher led the Flyers with 18 points. Davis scored 17 and had 10 rebounds. It’s his first career double-double. Josh Cunningham scored 16.
Dayton got back into the game with a 10-run starting at the 15-minute mark.
“We talked about the need at the half of making it a segment game, to be able to cut into that 15-point lead,” Grant said. “At the 16-minute mark, it was still a 15-point game. We talked about the need to win the next segment. We won the next segment. I think we had it down to an eight-point game at the 12, and we just continued to battle.”
The Flyers played an ugly half of basketball , committing 16 turnovers to fall behind 35-20 at halftime.
The Flyers committed a season-high 19 turnovers in their last game Wednesday against Auburn. They were well on their way to passing that mark at the half. Crutcher, making his first career start, had four of the turnovers.
Foul trouble also hurt the Flyers. Kostas Antetokounmpo and Cunningham each picked up three in the first half.
Dayton trailed 14-13 with 11 minutes to play. The Bulldogs ended the half on a 21-7 run. They enjoy a double-digit lead despite making 4 of 14 3-pointers and committing 10 turnovers themselves.
Matej Svoboda leads the Flyers with six points. He made 2 of 3 3-pointers.
Freshman Jordan Pierce made his Dayton debut late in the half. He didn’t play in the first six games. Coach Anthony Grant said last week the coaches hadn’t discussed redshirting him because of their limited roster.