A UMass dunk on Thursday. David Jablonski/Staff
The Flyers have led a charmed life for quite a while now — and mostly because of their own doing. They just seem to have a knack for playing their best in the final minutes.
Prior to Thursday, they were 5-0 this season in games decided by five points or less. Throw in two close games in the NCAA tournament last season, and they had won seven straight tight ballgames.
Until UMass beat UD 66-64 on Thursday (photos here), the last time the Flyers had lost a game like that was in the quarterfinals of the A-10 tournament when Langston Galloway’s push-off in the final seconds resulted in a 70-67 St. Joseph’s victory.
There’s no doubt the ball did not bounce or roll the Flyers way at key moments last night (or tonight really as I’m writing this at 5 a.m. at the Hartford airport). Dyshawn Pierre didn’t get a roll on an easy layup in the final minute. Scoochie Smith stepped out of bounds with the ball after grabbing a key rebound late in the game. How many 3-pointers did the Flyers just miss? Plenty.
On the other hand, the Flyers had plenty of chances to win the game and made plenty of mistakes to prevent them from doing so. Here are five things to take from the loss.
1. Archie: Flyers weren’t tough enough.
This was a physical game, as physical as I’ve seen this year. You could see it in my photos. You could see it in Kendall Pollard’s brutal pick in the final seconds. Somehow the Flyers were still standing at the end, even though all five starters played 34-38 minutes. They just weren’t standing as victors.
Here’s the lede of my game story:
The Flyers fled Amherst as fast as they could Thursday night — not so much to escape the sting of a 66-64 loss at Massachusetts but to beat the bad weather threatening to delay their charter flight back to Dayton. They moved quickly but still had to stay the night in Springfield because of freezing rain and snow.