By HAL McCOY
Of all the bad games the University of Dayton Flyers have played this season, and there have been some real stinkers, they outdid themselves Wednesday night.
It was a Valentine’s Day mess.
Playing a not-very-good George Mason team, a team almost as young as the Flyers, UD was cannon fodder for the Patriots, 85-67.
It boils down to this:
—When they are on the road, the Flyers are a train wreck. They are 1-and-10 on the road.
—When it comes to stopping the other team’s star, the Flyers make that guy look like a superstar. GMU’s Otis Livingston came into the game averaging 17 points a game. He scored 29 against the Flyers. He was 10 of 15 from the field — 7 of 9 from three — and added six assists.
—When UD coach Anthony Grant goes to his bench, it is an arid desert. The bench played 61 minutes and contributed 11 points, all but one coming in the final few minutes when Grant conceded the game and cleared his bench. John Crosby scored seven in 14 minutes and Matej Svoboda scored four in seven minutes and was 2 for 7 from the field.
—When Josh Cunningham is operating freely under the basket, the Flyers prosper. When he doesn’t, they lose. He is one of the top percentage shooters in the country but on Wednesday he missed several easy under-the-basket shots and finish with 15 points on 3-of-9 shooting. He was 9 for 9 from the foul line.
And he had only five rebounds enabling GMU to outscrap the Flyers on the boards, 39-26.
The Flyers constructed a 14-8 early in the game when Grant decided to see if his bench could do something other than spectate on the bench. The Flyers went nearly five minutes without a point and GMU barged ahead, 16-14.
The Flyers led, 22-21, with 5:10 left in the half, but were outscored 15-5 the rest of the way and trailed, 36-27 at the half.
They never recovered.
They fell behind by 11 when Livingston took over. He made three straight threes and added a two and UD was done, 59-42, with 12 minutes left.
Grant emptied his bench with 5 ½ minutes left in the game, knowing their was no chance in this interstate highway mishap.
After making 3 of their first five three-point attempts, the Flyers made only three of their next 19.
GMU made 10 of 19 from three and shot 51 per cent from the field.
Grant, as might be expected, was solemn on this night after the game when he talked to WHIO’s Larry Hansgen during his post-game show.
“No other way to put it, my responsibility is to make sure I prepare the team and it is their responsibility to show up every night, but neither happened,” he said.
“When you allow what happened on the defensive end to impact your offense, you see what happens,” he added. “We didn’t guard tonight. When you are not making shots you have to get back on defense and find a way to get easy baskets.
“We didn’t get any individual or collective performances you need when you go on the road. On nights when you don’t show up and play to your ability, what happened tonight is what happens,” Grant said.
George Mason climbed to 12-14 on the season and 6-7 in the Atlantic 10 conference. The Flyers fell to 11-14 and 5-8 in the Atlantic 10, with their chances for a decent seed in the post-season conference tournament fading into oblivion.