Game No. 3 recap: Connecticut 75, Dayton 64

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Kendall Pollard gets a dunk and a technical Friday. David Jablonski/Staff


A waiter at the Mexican restaurant I ate at last night told me basketball ranks second in the pecking order in Puerto Rico: behind baseball and ahead of boxing. But it’s gaining on baseball with the younger crowd.

J.J. Barea, of the Mavericks, is Puerto Rican. Carmelo Anthony’s dad is Puerto Rican, and Anthony hasn’t forgotten his roots. West Virginia has a player on its roster from San Juan, senior guard Gary Browne, who is celebrating a homecoming this week with a trip to the Puerto Rico Tip-Off championship game.

Basketball is big here — not enough to fill Coliseo Roberto Clemente, but that’s pretty much always the case in these type of events.

Of course, basketball is bigger in Dayton. The Flyer Faithful believed their team could win this thing after the last-second victory Thursday. A scoring drought in the last 10 minutes against No. 17 Connecticut means that won’t happen. The Huskies played like champions when it counted and beat Dayton 75-64 Friday (photo gallery here).

Here are five things we learned from that game:

1. Dayton will gain a lot from this game, even thought it lost.

It will be interesting to see how good this UConn team turns out to be. They’re the defending national champions, but they’re 17th in the polls because they lost more than 60 percent of their production. They could easily climb into the top 10 soon. That would help the Flyers’ strength of schedule.

Dayton fell to 61st in the RPI, according to RPIForecast.com, with Friday’s loss. I wouldn’t put much stock in that this early in the season. Old Dominion is currently No. 1 in that ranking.

Here’s the lede of my game story:

Fans can buy cups of fresh fruit in the stands at Coliseo Roberto Clemente. They can walk outside and break a sweat in seconds. They hear the public address announcer call out familiar names with Spanish pronunciations — Devon Scott becomes Dayvon Scott.

This isn’t home for the eight teams playing in the Puerto Rico Tip-Off — even though Dayton fans have turned it into UD Arena South — but some things hold true no matter where you are.

One of those is the defending national champion, no matter who they’ve lost or how they’re playing, is going to be a tough test. The Flyers learned that Friday as No. 17 Connecticut took control in the final 10 minutes to win 75-64 in the semifinals of the tournament.

“They’re a really hard team to play against,” Dayton coach Archie Miller said. “They had a double-edged sword with a great point guard who can really control the game and a terrific rim presence. They make things very difficult on you. We knew that coming in, but we played to win.”

2. Jordan Sibert is back on track. Sort of.

I wrote about Sibert in my UD notes story last night. He led the Flyers in scoring, but is still struggling from long range (2-of-17). Miller called that stat stunning. I would imagine the shots will start falling soon for Sibert. He’s too good of a shooter.

Everyone expected Jordan Sibert to lead the Flyers in scoring this season. He did last season. He probably will again.

But in Dayton’s first two games, the senior guard did not play as anyone expected. He scored nine points on 3-of-12 shooting against Alabama A&M and then nine points on 2-of-9 shooting against Texas A&M.

On Friday, in Dayton’s 75-64 loss to No. 17 Connecticut, Sibert struggled again from the field and especially from 3-point range, but he was aggressive around the basket, got to the line eight times and led the Flyers with 18 points.

“It felt good to see some close-range baskets go in,” Sibert said. “It’s just a game. You want to always be on. Eventually, it’ll start clicking though.”

3. Kendall Pollard is a battering ram.

I tweeted during the game that Pollard was playing up to the excitement level of his creamsicle orange shoes. He attacks the paint like a bowling ball and the rim like a sledgehammer. He was Dayton’s most exciting player in the first half Friday when he scored 12 of his career-high 15 points.

Then there was the technical foul. He pulled himself so high on the rim in the final minute of the first half after a dunk that one of his feet rose above the bottom of the backboard. Whether he was trying to avoid falling on Devon Scott or not, that’s going to get a technical foul every time.

“He knows he can’t do it,” Miller said. “If he says he didn’t do it, one way or another, you can’t do a chin-up on the basket. It was a big play in the game. Three plays in my mind stand out. We fouled two 3-point shooters for five points, and we gave them two points at the end of the half on a dunk. That’s seven points we could control right there.”

4. The Flyers need more from Jalen Robinson.

The junior forward had one point and no rebounds in 10 minutes Friday. Among the eight scholarship players, he ranks last on the team with 2.7 points per game and 17 minutes per game.

Devon Scott played 29 minutes against Connecticut, probably in part because he was doing a better job on the 7-footer Amida Brimah. Scott and Brimah each scored six points.

5. Boston College is beatable.

The Flyers will play the Eagles at 4:30 p.m. (Ohio time) on Sunday. BC already lost to an A-10 team, 71-62 to Massachusetts. UD played BC two years ago in the Charleston Classic and won big, 87-71.

The Eagles blew an 11-point halftime lead Friday and lost 70-66 to West Virginia, killing what would have been a fun Sunday game full of story lines: Dayton vs. Bob Huggins and former Flyer Juwan Staten.


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