By HAL McCOY
For 40 minutes, University of Dayton point guard Scoochie Smith was the Nowhere Man.
He sat for 10 of those 40 minutes with foul miseries and in regulation time he took one shot. And missed.
But when his team came back from the graveyard, down 13 points with 7:42 left against Davidson to tie it and send it into overtime, Scoochie pointed to the rafters and said, “Put all the spotlights on me.”
He scored UD’s first 11 points in the overtime, three straight three-pointers and a back door cut for a layup to save the day, an 89-82 victory that had to be seen to be believed.
And even then it was unbelievable.
It was 74-74 when the overtime began after the Flyers outscored Davidson 17-4 in the final 7:43.
The game was tied, 56-56, with 12 minutes left when Davidson guard Jack Gibbs scored 11 straight points to Dayton’s none and it looked as if the Flyers were ready for funeral services.
Then came Dayton’s late charge to tie it when Xeyrius Williams scored with 35 seconds left. Jack Gibbs missed an attempt for a game-winner at :03.3.
Then it was Scoochie time.
—He started the overtime with a ‘3’ from the top of the lane, his first field goal of the game. 77-74.
—He hit another three from the top of the lane at 3:10. 80-76.
—He hit another three, a step-away again from the top of the lane at 1:41. 83-76.
—He cut backdoor to the basket and received a sleight-of-hand pass from Charles Cookie for a layup at 1:41. 85-78.
All the Flyers had to do from there was make a few free throws and they made four of six to close it out.
For the game they made 31 of 45 free throws.
So the Flyers pushed their work sheet to 23-5 for the season and 14-2 in the Atlantic 10, in first place by a half game over Virginia Commonweath, which has a difficult assignment Saturday at Rhode Island.
The Flyers faced a difficult task stopping a couple of Ohio natives in 6-foot guard Jack Gibbs from Westerville, averaging 21.2, and 6-foot-8 Peyton Aldridge from Leavittsburg, averaging 20.7.
And they were as advertised. Each scored 27, but they took 40 of their team’s 63 shots. Gibbs took 21 shots and Aldridge took 19.
Aldridge scored 19 in the first half, but coach Archie Miller switched defensive assignments at halftime and put Kendall Pollard on him. Pollard muscled him away from the basket and held him to eight points in the second half. Pollard also scored 18, grabbed 12 rebounds and snatched four steals.
The Flyers were soft and disoriented in the first half. They committed 11 turnovers in the first 20 minutes. They average 11 a game. And Davidson scored 45 points in the first half, the most given up by the Flyers this season.
Amazingly, though, when they were down, 38-31, they outscored Davidson 15-7 during a late-half rush and took a 46-45 halftime lead.
Then they fell behind by 13 with 7:43 left and staged the Secretariat finish.
Of Smith’s incredible overtime one-man show, coach Archie Miller said, “The guy who usually shows up in big moments showed up. Those threes were probably the biggest shots of his career.”
And of Pollard’s defensive work on Aldridge, Miller said, “Kendall started to be really physical on their screens. We had a hard time all game matching up with them (Aldridge, Gibbs). Kendall just took it upon himself to bully his way over the screens to make things as hard as possible.
“And Charles Cooke did a really good job in the second half making it hard for Gibbs,” Miller added.
Neither Aldridge nor Gibbs were factors late in the game and in overtime. They both play nearly every minute of every game and were leg weary by game’s end.
While Davidson was a Two-Man Show, Miller said of his Flyers and its ‘True Team’ motto, “Give our guys credit — the way they talk in the huddles, they way they come back to the huddles, it is refreshing as a coach to watch them believe in one another. At the end of the day, it was a team approach.”
Smith finished with 17 points (all six of his points in the first half were at the foul line, Pollard has 18, Cooke scored 17 and Xeyrius Williams scored 13 in the first half en route to 17. That’s not only True Team, it is True Balance — 18, 17, 17 and 17.