By HAL McCOY
Just when one swears the University of Dayton Flyers can not possibly play worse, one is proved a liar.
Just one game ago, at Rhode Island, the Flyers played their worst half of the season, a second half wipeout by the Rams.
So, one game later, playing at La Salle, the Flyers performed miserably for an entire game and was diced and iced, 71-53. And it wasn’t that close. Midway through the second half they were down 24.
There is a major difference. Rhode Island is the regular season Atlantic 10 Conference champion. La Salle came into the game below the Flyers in the standings.
UD was 7-9 in the conference and La Salle was 6-10. The loss pushed the Flyers down another notch when it comes to the Atlantic 10 tournament. Although they are tied, La Salle now holds the edge because they beat the Flyers in their only meeting this season.
The game was played in Philadelphia at Tom Gola Arena, also known as ‘The Attic’ because the court is on the third floor of the building.
And this game belongs stored in the attic.
The Flyers fell behind, 6-0, and never recovered. Late in the half they fell behind, 25-11. How bad was it? At one point, La Salle committed turnovers on eight straight possession and the Flyers converted only three points out of those turnovers.
UD did get it to within eight late in the half, but La Salle star and fifth-year senior B.J. Johnson scored on a dunk with 0:01 left in the half for a 33-23 La Salle lead.
Once again, as has happened so often this season, the Flyers couldn’t stop the other team’s star player.
Johnson, leading the A-10 with a 23 points a game average, dropped in 27. He hit a couple of threes early in the game, then took it inside for four dunks.
La Salle put it away quickly in the second half on Senior Night. Another senior, Tony Washington, didn’t score in the first half.
UD’s Josh Cunningham had two fouls by halftime and the Explorers took it to him early in the second half, feeding Washington under the basket. He scored eight points in the first four minutes, helping La Salle build a 44-28 lead. Washington finished with 14, all in the second half.
The Flyers missed their first 10 three-point attempts until Darrell Davis hit one late in the half. For the game the Flyers were 5 for 23 from three.
The road is a long and lonely path for the Flyers. They are 1-and-11 on the road this season and lost their last three games away from home by double digits.
Besides their inability to defend big-time scorers, the Flyers again couldn’t protect the basketball and committed 18 turnovers while shooting only 40 percent. La Salle, which was credited with 21 assists, shot 55 per cent, many from point blank.
Trey Landers led the Flyers with 17 points on 7 of 9 shooting, eight points off offensive rebounds — he snagged 10 rebounds, five off the offensive boards. Jalen Crutcher and Josh Cunningham each scored 10.
But the scoring drought for senior Darrell Davis continued. He scored six, his third straight game below double digits after he put together 15 straight double digit games.
Coach Anthony Grant went to his bench early in the game, inserting John Crosby and non-scholarship player Jack Westerfield. Grant used four players off the bench, but only Kostas Antetokounmpo scored, eight points. La Salle received 22 points off its bench.