Game No. 8 recap: Dayton 56, Bowling Green 52

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Jalen Robinson gets a loose ball against BG. David Jablonski/Staff

Archie Miller had one more comment as he walked out the door after his postgame press conference Tuesday: “I can’t believe it’s only Dec. 9.”

There has already been a lot of tension and stress in the Dayton coach’s life. In just over a month, the Flyers have played eight games, and all but two of them have been decided in the last eight minutes. Three games have been decided by four points or less, and the Flyers have won all of them.

The last three victories, all games you would expect Dayton to win, have been as hard as any: 66-62 at Miami, 73-64 vs. Eastern Michigan and then 56-52 Tuesday against Bowling Green (photos here).

Considering they didn’t lead for the first 37-plus minutes against the Falcons, this latest victory was probably the most improbable of the season. Here are five things we learned:

1. Archie’s had enough of the MAC.

Despite the Mid-American Conference’s best effort, or because of it, the Flyers might not be playing as many MAC schools next season. They do have a home game against Miami scheduled. Based on Miller’s comments last night, that might be it. That makes yesterday’s poll about MAC teams on this blog a little pointless. Here’s the lede of my game story:

Bowling Green didn’t get to play the Flyers at UD Arena for more than 40 years. After the Falcons’ performance Tuesday, they might not get invited back for 100.

Bowling Green played the Flyers for the first time since 1971 and almost won at UD Arena for the first time. A 17-2 run by Dayton in the final 10 minutes carried it to a 56-52 victory in front of a crowd of 12,105.

The Flyers (7-1) never led until they took a 53-52 lead with 2:14 to play when Kendall Pollard made 1-of-2 free throws. Bowling Green (5-2) missed its last six shots from the field and didn’t score in the last four minutes.

The Flyers won their fifth straight game and their third in a row against a Mid-American Conference opponent. Much like the 66-62 victory at Miami last Wednesday and the 73-64 victory against Eastern Michigan on Saturday at UD Arena, Dayton had to scratch and claw in the final minutes to win.

“This series doesn’t continue,” Dayton coach Archie Miller said. “We’re done with the MAC run for a while. The thing people don’t understand is a lot of these guys, they come to games here (in high school) and then they go to Bowling Green and then they get a chance to play at the place where maybe they wanted to go. There’s a lot of those tough situations. It’s like when Dayton plays Ohio State. You have to be ready to battle in those games because you’re bringing in a group of people that are really ready to go.”

2. Dayton played BG because it needed a game and scheduling is difficult.

My follow-up question to Miller after that answer was, “Why did you play Bowling Green this season?”

“It’s been really difficult to schedule here for a long time, in particular some of the games we have on the schedule right now,” Miller said. “They were late gets. That Eastern Michigan team we played the other day, that’s not a bad team. We’re playing who we have to play. A lot of people don’t want to come in here and play. In some cases, you have to find a way to get Bowling Green in here, which is a good game for us.”

3. Protecting the home court is huge.

It’s hard enough to win on the road. Dayton can’t afford many losses at UD Arena, and while Bowling Green may turn out to have a fine season, a loss would have damaged Dayton’s RPI. Here’s an except of Tom Archdeacon’s column on Dayton’s home-court edge.

Over the years UD has been downright inhospitable to most visitors. Since the Flyers beat Bowling Green 72-70 to open UD Arena back in Dec. 6, 1969, they had won 565 of 765 games here.

But for much of Tuesday night it didn’t look like they were going to extend that streak. Early on BGSU was the grittier team, the better shooting and rebounding and ball-handling team.

The Flyers were being abused in their own living room.

“You can’t lose at home,” Scott said. “That’s like lettin’ somebody walk in your home and take your TV. You can’t let them do that — ever!”

4. Scott was banged up but is feeling better.

The Dayton forward had his third double-double in four games: 15 points and 10 rebounds. He looked much better than he did Saturday. Here’s an excerpt from my game notes story:

Devon Scott wasn’t himself Saturday. He got hit a few too many times in the same spot on his leg. The pain was the biggest reason he had his least-productive game of the season: three points and four rebounds in a 73-64 victory over Eastern Michigan.

“I was hobbling around,” Scott said. “I wasn’t able to jump as much as I wanted to.”

On Sunday and Monday, Scott spent two hours each day with trainer Mike Mulcahey. Scott iced the leg. He got ultrasound and electrical stem therapy.

By Tuesday, Scott felt good enough to lead the Flyers with 15 points and 10 rebounds in a 56-52 victory over Bowling Green at UD Arena. Jalen Robinson picked up two quick fouls in the first half, so Scott was on the floor early and late. He played 29 minutes and thanked Mulcahey for getting him ready.

“He’s a heck of a guy,” Scott said. “They were trying to do everything to get me back again. It worked.”

5. Arkansas will be hungry for a victory Saturday.

Dayton’s next opponent, the Razorbacks, have looked vulnerable lately, losing their last two games, but they were tough games on the road at Iowa State and Clemson. After a 6-0 start, Arkansas is 6-2. It’s a strong 3-point shooting team (42 percent) and strong offensive team in general (85.2 points per game).

It will be a big challenge for a Dayton offense that isn’t doing much well at all right now except getting to the line. Dayton ranks seventh in the A-10 in field-goal percentage (43), 12th in 3-point percentage (27) and seventh in free-throw percentage (67) but second in free throws made (153).

“One of the things about our program that really resonates is the pace of the play, the movement of the ball,” Miller said. “The ball’s got to move. Right now it really sticks. You can see probably six to seven possessions where we bring the ball down the floor after a missed shot and we turn it over. When the ball goes into the post, teams are really trying to make us pass it back out and make shots, and we’re struggling from 3. Right now, it’s the worst shooting team I’ve ever coached. It’s the worst shooting team I’ve ever been around. And it’s not a bad shooting team. We can only go up from here.”

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