Game No. 6 recap: Dayton 66, Miami 62

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Steve McElvene, Ryan Bass, Charles Cooke and Detwon Rogers after a basket by Bass against Miami. David Jablonski/Staff

Larry Hansgen did a one-question interview with me for his pregame show Wednesday and asked me if Miami was a rival for Dayton. Considering they’ve played all but two seasons since World War II and the fact that, aside from Wright State, Miami is the closest Division I men’s basketball program to Dayton, I said, “Yes, Miami is a rival.”

The teams have played 131 times now. There’s no doubt Dayton has passed Miami as a program. The RedHawks, in both football and basketball, are experiencing some lean years, to say the least. Still, wouldn’t you rather have Dayton play Miami than the Alabama A&Ms of the world?

If last night’s game, a 66-62 victory for the Flyers is an indication (photos here), Dayton will always get Miami’s best shot. The series continues next season. After that, who knows.

For me, going to Millett Hall brings back memories of college when I covered a couple Ohio vs. Miami games. That’s a true rivalry. It was Larry Hunter vs. Charlie Coles, some mediocre OU teams vs. Wally Sczcerbiak (I can still spell his name after all these years). They didn’t have the hashtag #MACtion back then because, well, there was no Twitter and barely an Internet, so I made sure to get a couple #MACtions in my tweets last night. The A-10 needs to step up its hashtag game.

Here are five things we learned last night:

1. Dayton was fortunate to escape with a victory.

The Flyers scored their last 13 points at the free-throw line as Miami rallied from a 16-point deficit with some clutch 3-pointers in the final minutes (game story here).

Dayton players, coaches and fans kept glancing at the game clock Wednesday. The final minute must have lasted an hour.

Miami somehow found a way to stall time even as it pushed the pace with a frenetic press to get back in the game and almost steal a victory from the Flyers.

A blowout turned into a nail-biter, but the final result was what most everyone expected. Dayton held off Miami for a 66-62 victory at Millett Hall in the 131st meeting between the programs.

“A hard-fought game,” Dayton coach Archie Miller said. “I give Miami a lot of credit. They had a good game plan, playing a matchup zone. Although we knew we would play against it, we didn’t think we’d play against it that much. Sometimes that can make the game feel a little funny.”

 2. Devon Scott and Kendall Pollard are leading Dayton’s front court.

On a night Dayton shot 4-of-20 from long range, it got plenty of offense from two big men, who combined to make 10-of-13 shots from the field. Tom Archdeacon wrote about their production:

Dayton squeaked out a 66-62 victory. And it’s because of two guys:

Devon Scott and Kendall Pollard.

Or, as Scott would sum it up afterward: “There’s always light at the end of the tunnel.”

Pollard, the 6-foot-6 sophomore forward, came off the bench for a game-high 15 points and had two blocked shots, two steals and two assists against three turnovers. His one negative was one rebound.

Scott, the 6-foot-9 starting center, finished with his second straight double-double, this time getting 13 points to go with 10 rebounds.

3. Archie Miller is willing to take the blame.

The Dayton coach blamed himself for not having the Flyers ready defensively. Miami hit 9-of-19 3-pointers.

“Our defense was really disheveled tonight,” Miller said. “I’ll take full responsibility for not being organized.”

4. Miller wants Ryan Bass to play more.

Miller also criticized himself for not getting Bass more playing time. He didn’t play in the first half and played one three-minute stretch in the second. He looked good in those minutes and had a layup and a steal.

“That was on me,” Miller said. “He just hasn’t practiced a whole lot. He makes plays. He’s aggressive. He’s tough. He’s not afraid. But he’s behind the eight ball in terms of learning what’s going on. I think he made three plays on defense and two or three good plays on offense. We’ve got to get him back in there. We’ve got to use him.”

5. Dayton’s next MAC opponent is a bigger challenge.

The Flyers host Eastern Michigan at 2 p.m. Saturday. The Eagles haven’t beaten anyone of Dayton’s caliber, but they are 7-0 and they won 22 games last season, so they can’t be overlooked.

Dayton is 96th in the RPI after last night’s win. Eastern Michigan is 133rd.

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