Game No. 22 recap: George Washington 65, Dayton 64

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Joe McDonald’s winning shot. David Jablonski/Staff

Jordan Sibert kept looking back and up at the video board as he left the court Friday at George Washington’s Smith Center. All the Flyers wanted a second look at the last-second shot by Joe McDonald that left Dayton with a 65-64 overtime loss.

Seeing it once, even right in front of them, didn’t quite answer the question, “How did that happen?”

If Dayton’s players knew the team’s history at the Smith Center, they wouldn’t have asked “How?” but rather “Why?” As in, “Why does this keep happening here?” One word describes Dayton’s history in Foggy Bottom: tortured. They’ve lost three games in a row there by a total of four points.

Two years ago, George Washington beat Dayton 81-80 at the Smith Center on a dunk by Isaiah Armwood with two seconds left in overtime. Dayton’s Dyshawn Pierre then swished a 3-pointer, but it came just after buzzer.

Four years ago, Dayton freshman Juwan Staten fouled George Washington’s Tony Taylor with 10.8 seconds to play, and he hit two free throws to give the Colonials a 60-58 victory. Jabari Edwards blocked a shot by Dayton’s Chris Wright at the buzzer.

Seven years ago, Wynton Witherspoon’s 3-pointer with 1.9 seconds lifted the Colonials to a 57-54 victory over Dayton.

Eleven years ago, George Washington’s T.J. Thompson banked in a shot with 1.1 seconds remaining to beat Dayton 66-64.

So what do we take from this latest defeat (photos here)? Here are five things:

1. Archie Miller is “on to Saint Louis.”

I give Archie a lot of credit for being good with the media after the worst losses, and this was one of those. He spoke from the heart after the game, even if there was some Bill Belichick in that heart.

“You don’t feel good at all when you lose any game, but when you lose the way we did tonight, it sort of sticks a stake in your heart,” Miller said. “Those are the tough ones to recover from. For us, we’ve got to move on. We’re on to Saint Louis. Whether we won this game, lost this game, lost by 20, it doesn’t really matter. The next day, the next approach is the only thing on my my mind right now.”

2. Pollard is a highlight reel, but Wehrli held his own.

Kendall Pollard made SportsCenter’s top 10 plays for the second time in a week with his dunk in the first half. He almost blocked another shot into the rim or through the backboard, too.

I really didn’t think UD had a chance in overtime when Pollard fouled out with three minutes left in the second half. Bobby Wehrli didn’t fill the stat sheet but got one big basket late on a great pass from Pierre and did a good job on defense against taller opponents.

Kendall Pollard does it all on the court for the Flyers. For a while Friday night, he flirted with filling SportsCenter’s top 10 plays all by himself.

“Bobby did a great job tonight,” Miller said. “He played 22 of the hardest minutes he’s played all season. He fought undersized. He did a really nice job late in the game of being active and getting his hands on some things and causing some problems.”

3. This was one of the closer games of the season.

I have little doubt Dayton would beat GW at home, but they don’t get that chance this year and GW could have had the same complaint last season. Even on a neutral court, I’d pick UD. Having said that, these teams were as close as could be last night.

Each team had eight steals. Each team had 14 turnovers. Each team made five 3-pointers. Dayton shot one more 3-pointer than GW. GW made two more FGs than UD. GW had three more rebounds. UD had one more personal foul.

4. The Flyers need Darrell Davis to get on track.

The freshman guard was the hottest shooter in the country in late December and early January but has cooled off in the last seven games. He has seven 3-pointers in those games, and three came at UMass. He was 0 of 5 from the field Friday in 19 minutes.

It might be the long season getting to him, or that teams know about him now. Probably it’s both. I have a feeling things will swing the other way for Davis again soon and he’ll play a bigger role down the stretch.

5. Prediction: Flyers go 6-2 in their last eight.

The way things are going, a 13-5 A-10 record would likely land Dayton one of the top four seeds, except now GW, Davidson and UMass all have tiebreakers over the Flyers.

That’s important because the Flyers would get a bye into the quarterfinals of the A-10 tournament. They might have a shot at winning the conference tournament with three games in four days, but it’s hard to imagine a seven-man team winning four games in four days.

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