Game No. 19 recap: Dayton 63, Richmond 60

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Richmond’s shot at final buzzer. David Jablonski/Staff

UD hung banners at the arena a couple weeks ago that read, “Are you the sixth?”

It’s a reference to the fans being the sixth man. They are that and more. A second straight sellout crowd of 13,455 filled UD Arena on Saturday night and watched the Flyers win their 16th straight home game, 63-60 over Richmond (photos here).

This is now tied for the sixth longest home winning streak in school history. There’s been only one longer streak in the last 50 years.

Here are five things to take from Dayton’s victory, its first in A-10 play this season that hasn’t been decided by double digits.

 1. Flyers are finding a way.

The lede of my game story:

A sellout crowd at UD Arena watched Richmond’s ShawnDre’ Jones’ 3-pointer sail to the rim with seconds to play. If the force of collective will can bend a shot the wrong way, Jones had no chance.

The shot did miss, a crowd of 13,455 rejoiced and No. 22 Dayton survived its first nail-biter of the Atlantic 10 season, beating the Spiders 63-60 on Saturday.

It’s the 16th straight home victory for Dayton (16-3, 6-1). The Flyers have won nine of 10 games with their seven-man rotation.

“It was just a heck of an environment in there tonight,” Dayton coach Archie Miller said. “That’s why you come here. That’s why you want to play here. Our players responded with tremendous effort and courage.”

This victory keeps Dayton in second place in the A-1o, tied with George Washington (16-4, 6-1) and a half game behind Virginia Commonwealth (16-3, 6-0).

“It was a tough week coming off of Davidson,” Miller said. “Guys are banged up right now. To their credit, they’re finding a way.”

2. Kendall Pollard is clutch.

From my second story last night:

Kendall Pollard has never met a shot at the rim he couldn’t make. He’s never stepped to the foul line without all of UD Arena holding its breath.

Pollard, however, hit 6 of 8 free throws Saturday in a 63-60 victory over Richmond at UD Arena. He sank two big ones with 6:30 to go to trim Richmond’s lead to 52-50. He made two more minutes later, tying the game 55-55 with 2:59 to play.

Dayton coach Archie Miller said earlier this season Pollard would never be a great free-throw shooter, but he’s proven to be a strong player in the clutch. He certainly was Saturday. He finished with 14 points on 4-of-7 shooting and had four rebounds.

“He’s a big money guy. He likes the big lights,” Miller said. “He did not practice one second coming back from Davidson with a sore knee. He basically took the floor today without practicing or preparing

“I thought with a couple of days off, he was a little winded. Second half, he started to really, really be physical under the basket. He got fouls. He got some things done in there. He fought through it.”

3. Dyshawn Pierre is true to his word.

After a five-point performance against Davidson on Tuesday, Pierre was downcast after the game and told me he wouldn’t let his team down Saturday. He lived up those words in a big way, scoring 21 points.

From Tom Archdeacon’s column:

“I talked to Dyshawn early Wednesday morning for about 30 minutes,” coach Archie Miller said. “He was really disappointed in his play at Davidson.”

Pierre said Miller was part psychologist, part cheerleader, part fellow ballplayer as they talked:

“He just knows how to talk to people. He knows what you’re going through. I was thinking about what happened, trying to figure it out, and he helped me forget it. You can’t let it linger. You lose a couple of games in conference play and you fall back (in the standings).”

By the time Pierre left his office, Miller said he was sure of one thing:

“I could tell he was gonna play well tonight. And for the first time in his career, I didn’t really have to prod him. He didn’t need to be told what to do. He was very anxious to get to the game.”

4. Detwon Rogers probably won’t play this season.

Rogers appeared close to returning until the last three games. He was on the bench but not in uniform for the Saint Louis game. He was not with the team at Davidson. Then he was not on the bench or at the arena for the Richmond, prompting a postgame question to Miller about whether Rogers was even still practicing.

Here’s what the coach said:“He wasn’t at the game tonight based on an academic situation he’s dealing with. We held him out of the game. Right now, he’s going to be on a day-to-day basis. He’s going to have to get his academics in order in terms of what we expect from our guys every day. I doubt very highly he’ll play one minute this year. Where that goes from there, I don’t know.”

5. Devin Oliver is proud of his former team.

The former Flyer, now playing in Belgium, taped a video message that played at UD Arena before the game.

Oliver, a senior captain for the Elite Eight team a year ago, is averaging 11.8 points and 6.9 rebounds per game with Limburg United in Belgium. He taped the message in Belgium and said he wouldn’t be able to attend any UD games this season.

“It’s really different being away from a place that took me in and embraced me like you all did, but it’s still a good experience,” said Oliver, addressing the Dayton fans. “I learned a lot about myself as a basketball player and even more importantly as a man. It just sucks not being able to play in front of 13,000 every night.

“The season for my team is going really well, as well as UD’s. I’m really proud of what my former teammates have done thus far. I keep up with them as much as I can. It looks like some of my skills did wear off on them. Seriously, Archie and his staff have done an incredible job with some pretty difficult circumstances.”

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