Flyers’ hibernation the final four minutes leads to loss to VCU, 76-71

By HAL McCOY

With an opportunity to score a significant victory Wednesday night at Virginia Commonwealth, the University of Dayton offense retreated into an igloo and stayed there for the last four minutes of the game.

The outcome was a disheartening 76-71 defeat, dropping the Flyers to 3-and-1 in the Atlantic 10 and snapping a six-game winning streak.

The Flyers led, 69-65 with 4:10 left in the game. Then came the offensive hibernation.

—Ryan Mikesell missed a three.
—Jalen Crutcher missed a three.
—Josh Cunningham traveled.
—Jalen Crutcher committed a turnover.
—Ryan Mikesell missed a three.
—Josh Cunningham committed a turnover.
—Jordan Davis missed a layup on which the ball came to rest on the orange flange that attaches the basket to the backboard. Has that ever happened in basketball history?

Meanwhile, VCU star Marcus Evans came off the bench, where he sat for several minutes of the second half with four fouls, to score VCU’s final seven points.

It was 69-all when Evans bottomed a long three with 34 seconds left. With the Flyers trying to find a way to score, Evans hit four straight free throws to seal it.

It was fitting that the Evans three turned the game around. VCU came into the game shooting 29 per cent from the three-point line.

In their previous game, a loss to Davidson, the Rams were 4 for 24 from three. Against Dayton Wednesday they were 9 for 19, enabling VCU to lift its A-10 record to 3-and-1 and 12-and-5 overall. UD is 11-and-6.

Using a mugging-style half-court defense that befuddled and perplexed the Flyers, VCU stepped out to an 11-point lead midway through the first half.

But UD went on a 12-0 run at the end of the half and early into the second half to grab a 39-37 lead. From there it was a wild scramble, tight all the way, until the Flyers built their biggest lead, 63-58, with 8:10 left.

The lead changed teams 12 times during the course of the game and there were nine ties.

Both teams struggled with fouls. For the Flyers both Obi Toppin and Trey Landers fouled out and Cunningham sat for lengthy periods and finished with four fouls.

Jordan Davis led the Flyers with 17, but launched only four three-pointers and made two. His guard running mate, Jalen Crutcher, scored 14 but was only 2 of 6 from three. UD was 4 for 16 from three.

Josh Cunningham scored 13, but could only get off six shots, making five. Ryan Mikesell scored 11 but was 0 for 3 from three.

VCU had five players in double figures, led by Marcus Evans with 17, four over his average.

Neither team could shoot straight from the foul line with UD struggling at 15 for 23 and VCU with 13 for 22.

But Evans buried four straight in the final 30 seconds to clinch it and send the Flyers back to the locker room with hanging heads over what could have and might have been.

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