By HAL McCOY
One thing that is totally consistent with the University of Dayton basketball team this season — it is totally inconsistent.
First year coach Anthony Grant must feel like Forrest Gump and his box of chocolates: “You never know what you are going to get.”
After playing an outstanding game Tuesday night against Davidson College in UD Arena, the Flyers visited St. Louis Saturday afternoon and melted like snow on a 55-degree day.
The Flyers had beaten Saint Louis University seven straight times, but Billikens coach Travis Ford threw a conglomeration of multiple defenses at UD and the Flyers were discombobulated, disoriented and distraught en route to a 75-62 defeat.
The Billikens alternated between a 1-3-1 zone, a 2-3 zone a 2-1-2 zone, a matchup zone and man-to-man (everything but a box-and-one) as the Flyers were as confused as an American trying to drive the streets of Paris.
And then there was UD’s defense. Knowing the Billikens averaged only four three-point baskets a game, next-to-last in the Atlantic 10 Conference (30 per cent), the Flyers dared Saint Louis to shoot threes.
They did. Oh, did they. They made nine of 18 threes and dominated the backboard to knock the Flyers below .500 in both the Atlantic 10 (4-and-5) and overall (10-and-11).
The Flyers started fast, building a 17-7 lead as Jalen Crutcher scored nine points. At that point, just five minutes into the game, Saint Louis coach Travis Ford called his second timeout.
From that point, the Billikens pretty much were in command. It was 28-28 late in the half when Saint Louis went on an 8-2 (just two free throws by the Flyers in the final three minutes and Saint Louis took a 36-30 halftime lead.
Josh Cunningham was saddled with early four trouble and was a non-contributor and a bench-sitter most of the first half.
The Flyers finally found Cunningham under the basket four straight times for an eight-point Cunningham run early in the second half and UD pulled within 45-42.
Then they forgot about him again and he would score only one more basket the rest of the game.
With about eight minutes left, Jordan Davis stole the ball and drove for a basket to bring the Flyers within one, 54-53.
Then UD collapses like a circus tent in a hurricane. They were outscored 21-9 in the final eight minutes due to a plethora of turnovers (16 for the game that led to 24 Saint Louis points) and a heavy tonnage and badly missed shots.
Cunningham finished with 16 points, but had only nine shots (six made). After scoring nine in the first few minutes, Crutcher finished with 14. Jordan Davis had 11 and Darrell Davis was 3 for 10 from the field (2 of 6 from three) for 10 points.
There was a one-on-one battled between UD’s Trey Landers and the Billikens Javon Bess and Bess got the best of it it — 20 points (he averages 13) and made three of four three-point attempts.
Jalen Johnson came off the Saint Louis bench to score 16 (3 of 4 from three) as the Billiken bench outscored the Flyers bench 21 to 5.
Fans talk loudly and often about teams like Xavier, Cincinnati and Miami not playing the Flyers and it is fortunate this season that they don’t. And it most likely is a good thing the Flyers refuse to play Wright State. This is a season during which Wright State might be too tall of a mountain for the Flyers to climb — depending upon which Dayton team showed up on game day.