By HAL McCOY
In essence, the Dayton Flyers lost Saturday afternoon on a wing, a prayer and a miracle shot that may or may not have beaten the shot clock.
The University of Massachusetts scored an 86-82 victory in a college basketball version of the Boston Marathon, a double overtime affair.
The score was tied, 81-81, with 55 seconds left in the second overtime and UMass owned the basketball.
UMass star sophomore guard Luwane Pipkins had the basketball and it was poked away with seven seconds left on the shot clock. The ball rolled to near half-court and Pipkins scrambled after it as most of the Flyers watched.
He retrieved the ball, took a couple of dribbles and as the shot clock drained toward nothing he heaved the ball from about 45 feet out. In banked off the glass and into the basket as the horn sounded.
Good? Too late? Officials took nearly five minutes to review the play and finally determined that Pipkins won with his personal Beat The Clock shot.
That gave UMass an 84-81 lead. Josh Cunningham made one of two free throws to cut the lead to two with 41 seconds left.
UMass used up most of the clock on the next possession before Malik McLean hit a shot at the top of the key with seven seconds left and the exhausted Flyers were left for dead.
Most of the UD starters played nearly every minute because coach Anthony Grant does not trust his bench. The bench? What bench? Nobody off the bench scored a point — zero points off the bench.
Josh Cunningham had 27 points and 11 rebounds, his seventh straight double-double and Trey Landers scored a career-high 22, but fouled out just 30 seconds into the second overtime.
Darrell Davis had only one point at halftime when the Flyers trailed by 35-28. But he scored 14 in the second half as the Flyers stepped up their pace and intensity.
They trailed by 10, 49-39, with 16 minutes left but burst into a 10-0 runout to tie it, 49-49, making nine of their first 10 shots in the second half.
From there it was a back alley cat fight with both teams scratching and clawing at each other.
—In regulation, Cunningham stuffed home a basket to tie it, 69-69, with 1:30 left. The Flyers had two chances to win it but Darrell Davis missed a floater in the lane and Jalen Crutcher missed a step-back jumper at the buzzer.
—In the first overtime, the Flyers fell behind by four right away, 73-69, but drew even at 74-74. Josh Cunningham hit two free throws to tie it, 77-77, with 23 seconds left. UMass emptied the clock to go for a game-winner but Pipkins missed a jumper at the horn.
—In the second overtime, the Flyers again quickly fell behind by four, 81-77, but two baskets by Cunningham tied it again, 81-81. That set up the Hail Mary Heave by Pipkins that won it.
It was UD’s second loss this season to UMass. The Minutemen beat the Flyers earlier this season at UD Arena, 62-60. In that one, Pipkins scored 25 (he averages 22).
En route to 28 points Pipkins made 11 of 27 shots, six of 13 from three-point territory, including his near half-court dagger. UMass made 12 of 26 threes to UD’s 5 of 22.
Cunningham made 10 of 13 shots and Landers, who also had nine rebounds, was 11 for 14. Crutcher was 6 for 11.
While Darrell Davis scored 15, he was 4 for 18 from the field, 1 for 8 from three. Jordan Davis played 49 of the 50 minutes and scored three point on 1 of 8 shooting (1 for 5 from three).
UMass is 4-and-7 in the Atlantic 10, two of the four victories over UD and the Flyers are 4-6 in the A10, 10-and-12 overall.
“Our guys, in the second half, really came together and they fought the way I expect our team to fight,” UD coach Anthony Grant said on his post-game show with Larry Hansgen. “They played with great pride.
“Breaks didn’t go our way and you don’t like the final result and I hurt for them because they fought their tails off,” he added. “We had our opportunities, but it is what it is and we have to pick ourselves up and get ready for the next one.”