Game No. 26 recap: Duquesne 83, Dayton 73

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Dyshawn Pierre on Saturday at Duquesne. David Jablonski/Staff

The Flyer Faithful took over the CONSOL Energy Center on Saturday. I’d guess 60-70 percent of the crowd of 5,227 wore the Dayton red and blue.

But a road game is a road game. The Flyers took a four-plus hour bus trip to get here. The Duquesne players walked a couple snowy blocks.

For many reasons, it’s hard to win on the road in college basketball. Dayton beat Duquesne by 26 points at UD Arena in January. They lost 83-73 to Duquesne on Pittsburgh on Saturday (photos here). VCU and Rhode Island escaped Duquesne with close victories. Dayton did not. For now that is the difference between first and second place for the Flyers.

Here are five things to take from the game:


1. Free T-shirts do not appease frustrated fans.

Twitter had a lot of fun with my tweet about a UD fan getting kicked out of the game. We had several eyewitness accounts that confirmed he was booted by overzealous usher for throwing a free T-shirt back to the court. An entire section of UD fans applauded the guy as he headed for the exit.

My game story:

Duquesne cheerleaders tossed T-shirts into the crowd throughout the game against Dayton on Saturday at the CONSOL Energy Center.

At some point late in the second half, a frustrated Flyer fan threw a T-shirt back toward the court. Either he realized it wasn’t T-shirt weather outside in snowy Pittsburgh, or he just had seen enough of the action on the court. Security ushered him out of the arena as his fellow fans cheered him.

Ranked 254th in the RPI at the start of the day, Duquesne accomplished the equivalent of keying the Dayton bus. The Flyers’ NCAA tournament resume now features an unsightly blemish. They get four more regular-season games and then the Atlantic 10 tournament to cover it up.

“When you get knocked down in basketball or real life, either you can let the world keep walking over you,” Dayton senior guard Jordan Sibert said, “or you can find a way to get back up and keep fighting.”

2. The Flyers were tired.

Archie Miller and the players will never use it as an excuse, but there’s little doubt they lacked that little bit extra pep in their step they needed. Two games in three days, with the second game on the road, will test any team, especially one with seven players.

It’s worth nothing that two Duquesne players played all 40 minutes, but Duquesne did have one extra day to get ready for this game.

“I don’t have any excuses,” Miller said. “I’ve been in the Pac 12. I’ve seen Thursday night games, Saturday night turnarounds, and I’ve seen guys play terrific. You can use that if you want, but we could have had 10 days of practice, and if we came out and played with that kind of energy and toughness, Duquesne was going to get the same result. They were better today.”

3. Dyshawn Pierre’s performance wasn’t enough.

Pierre scored a career-high 27 points but had little help from his teammates. Scoochie Smith scored 14. Jordan Sibert had 12.

The Flyers never quite figured out the zone, which they saw for 40 minutes. That’s why they attempted a season-high 33 3-pointers.

“Dyshawn was probably the only bright spot in today’s game,” Miller said, “but we just didn’t have enough going. If Jordan’s not going to hit, if Kyle (Davis) is not going to hit, if Darrell (Davis) is not going to hit, it’s going to be tough.

“Thirty-three 3s is way too much for our team. It says a lot about what we didn’t get done not only in the half court but in the full court. I don’t think we had any opportunities in transition. When we did, we didn’t capitalize.”

4. Duquesne was inspired.

The Dukes wanted to win for assistant coach John Rhodes. The former Ohio University player and coach, who coached at OU for seven seasons with Dayton’s Kevin Kuwik, was hit by a car in Philadelphia last week, and that came three weeks after he was diagnosed with cancer. He’s in a Philadelphia hospital with a broken leg and fractured neck and had one surgery already and another soon.

The Dukes were also inspired by a visit from a former player.

From the Pittsburgh-Post Gazette:

At Duquesne’s final practice before facing a Dayton team that was tied atop the Atlantic 10 standings, the Dukes received a visit from Norm Nixon, one of the program’s most decorated and recognizable players.

The leading scorer on Duquesne’s 1977 NCAA tournament team, Nixon is one of a few links remaining to a bygone era when the Dukes reached a peak they haven’t returned to for the past 38 years.

In front of the players, he spoke of how close his teams were and of how they handled their business. He talked of hard work and dedication to the game. Most of all, he explained what it took to become a champion.

With a 9-16 record and only four games remaining in the regular season, it’s likely too late for this Duquesne team to make any kind of indelible impact. But in one of its biggest games of the year, Nixon’s words from the day before resonated.

5. Big picture: Flyers still dancing (for now)

I imagine Joe Lunardi and Jerry Palm will still have the Flyers in their brackets when they update them Sunday or Monday. The Flyers were a No. 8 or No. 9 seed in most brackets before this loss.

However, there’s no doubt this is a bad loss, and Dayton doesn’t have victories as good as it had last year when wins over Gonzaga and Saint Louis propelled it into the NCAA tournament. My guess is Dayton needs to go 3-1 in the last four games or go 2-2 and win two games in the A-10 tournament.

Dayton still has one last chance for a big regular-season win at VCU on Saturday. That would cancel out this loss.



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