McCoy: It Is One And Done For UD Flyers In A-10 Tournament

By Hal McCoy

Brooklyn, N.Y.— It was an awful night for Knights in White Satin Thursday in the Atlantic 10 tournament.

All four top seeds, all wearing white uniforms, felt the deep string of defeat and elimination.

The third-seeded University of Dayton joined No. 1` seed Richmond, No. 2 Loyola Chicago and No. 4 Massachusetts leaving the scene in the quarterfinals.

The Flyers packed their sweaty gear after losing to Duquesne, 65-57, a team they had easily defeated twice during the regular season.

It was the first time since 2006 that all four top seeds were shown the exit sign on the same day, all four deposited on their collective cannisters.

The Flyers painted themselves into the coffiin corner by getting outscored in the paint, 30-18. And they were outrebounded, 45-28.

Twice down the stretch, when the game was within grasp of either teaam, Duquesne had three shots and scored on the fourth shot.

“We were out of character tonight, way out of character,” said UD coach Anthony Grant after the Flyers fell to 24-7. “You look at the numbers across the board, we really struggled. We couldn’t get a rhythm, we couldn’t get it going, for whatever reason.”

DaRon Holmes II didn’t hit a field goal in the first half and had three points, but burst free in the second half for 21 points. He finished with 24 points and recorded his 12th double-double this season with 13 rebounds.

But he had zero help from his friends. Nate Santos was the only other Flyer in double figures with 10 points, but was 3 for 8. Koby Brea had six, but made only two of his five three-point flings.

Enoch Cheeks scored six on 1 for 7 shooting and Kobe Elvis scored the team’s first basket and scored only one more.

As usual, Holmes was smothered and mauled under the basket as Duquesne looked as if they were all first cousins to a hack saw. He was fouled 12 times and made 13 of 16 free throws.

The Flyers were 16 for 50 (32%) and 7 for 26 from three (26.9%).

It started as poorly as it finished as the Flyers made one of their first 10 shots and fell behind, 14-4. They pecked away until Javon Bennett hit a three just before the halftime buzzer to pull them within two, 30-28.

Holmes scored 12 of the Flyers first 14 in the second half and the Flyers took a 42-39 lead. And they took a 50-46 lead on a three-pointer by Brea with 7:54 left.

And it was 52-48 with 7:15 left, disaster time. Duquesne, winners of six straight after starting its A-10 schedule 0-and-5, went on a 10-0 run to grab a 58-52 lead with 4:10 left.

Once again the Flyers scrambled back to within 58-55, but Jake DiMichele, a freshman walk-on who is a starter, scored underneath to push the Dukes back to a 60-55 lead.

Holmes scored underneath and the Flyers were back within three, 60-57, with 1:15 left, but Jimmy Clark III hit a three as the shot clock expired, giving Duquesne a 63-57 lead and the Flyers were 49 seconds away from extinction.

Duquesne’s guards, Clark and Dae Dae Grant, a transfer from Miami of Ohio, scored 16 and 11.

Grant lamented that his Flyers and the other four seeds didn’t get to practice in the Barclays Center and were seeing the floor for the first time.

And that was the same for the other three defeated seeded teams. All four teams that upset them had a game under their belts.

“It was the first time our guys touched the court and shot on those rims” he said. “I don’t know. Maybe that is part of the reason the top four seeds are no longer playing. It would be nice if you had some time to get a feel for the gym.”

The Flyers uncharacteristically fired up four air balls, including one by Kobe Brea, who seldom misses the rim, let alone everything.

It all came down to the final seven minutes and it was a Duquesne Dance.

“They were able to get into a rhythm the last seven minutes,” said Grant. “There were a couple of plays in the post, they got free for some open threes and their offensive rebounding down the stretch changed the game.

“And for us, offensively,, we just didn’t finish,” he added. “We just could not finish plays tonight, whether it was shots at the rim or open threes. We just had a tough time offensively tonight from an execution standpoint.”

Of the decisive final seven minutes that went Duquesne’s way, point guard Javon Bennett, returning to the lineup after missing two games with a left thumb injury, tried to dissect the messy finish.

“We just couldn’t get any stops whenever it mattered,” he said. “They made tough shots and they were already scoring and that hurt us in the stretch.”

All allong, pundits have said the Flyers are a lock for the NCAA tournament, but losing their first game in the conference tournament might put some doubt in it. For sure, it will hurt their seeding if they do make it.

So now they wait until Sunday, await their fate, as the committee reveals the 68 NCAA participants.


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