By HAL McCOY
It was no surprise that the University of Dayton Flyers took care of business Saturday afternoon in UD Arena against Winthrop University, a 6,000-student institution in Rock Hill, S.C.
The Flyers, dominating the paint like Sherwin-Williams, dismissed the Eagles from the Big South Conference, 83-67.
THE SURPRISE WAS WHEN No. 25 took the floor for the first time this season with about 14 minutes left in the first half.
Kendall Pollard, the 6-foot-6 senior under-the-basket force, made his season’s debut after sitting out the first portion of the season with a deep thigh contusion. It was like hundred dollar bills from heaven for coach Archie Miller and his 5-and-2 Flyers.
It was a surprise entrance. Miller coyly said all this week that Pollard might begin practicing hard with the team soon.
THERE WAS NO INDICATION he would even put on his uniform to face Winthrop, but there he was dressed up with someplace to go during pre-game drills.
And there he was on the floor six minutes into the game, a huge boost for a Flyers team looking for help around he basket.
His initial appearance, though, was inauspicious. He picked up two quick offensive fouls, didn’t score and left rust specks all over the floor as the Flyers took a 33-27 halftime lead.
The second half? Welcome back, Kendall Pollard.
He scored 12 points and pretty much put the game away during one quick stretch in the second half.
POLLARD SCORED UNDERNEATH at 14:10 of the second half, his first points of the season, then scored underneath three more times in the next two minutes — an eight-point Pollard run punctuated with a fast break dunk that gave the Flyers a 49-40 lead that they kept building.
Pollard played 18 of the 40 minutes and scored 12 points on four of eight field goals and four of six from the foul line. And he chipped in with five rebounds to display what a force he can and will be for the Flyers.
IT WAS EVIDENT EARLY that the Flyers were going to attack the basket like a street person at a free Christmas dinner.
Of their 84 points, 56 came in the paint to 28 for Winthrop. And the Flyers had their fast break working at full throttle open, outscoring the Eagles 14-0 on fast break baskets.
The Flyers, who so often roam the perimeter searching for three-point shots, took only 14 and made four.
And rebounding? Cleaning and clearing the backboards has been a missing ingredient this season, but on this day the Flyers sprayed Windex on the glass with a season’s best 45 rebounds to 27 for the visitor’s.
The Flyers received their usual contributions from seniors Charles Cooke and Scoochie Smith.
Cooke scored 20 points and collected six rebounds, but the leading rebounder was point guard Smith with seven. And he added 15 points.
Scoochie rocked the house late in the first half with a Ringling Brothers basket. He drove the lane through two defenders and while falling to the floor he flipped up a left handed Our father, who art in heaven shot that fell through the hoop.
Sophomore Xeyrius Williams, who started the season as a non-entity, has become a weapon off the bench over the last four games. In 23 minutes Saturday he scored nine points including a corner three midway through the second half that ignited another 8-0 Flyers run that put Winthrop to bed for good.