Game No. 32 recap: Dayton 56, Rhode Island 52

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Kyle Davis dives for a loose ball. David Jablonski/Staff


This will be anything but a lazy Sunday for the Flyers, their fans and us in the media.

First there will be basketball. Then, for myself, Mike Hartsock and Tom Archdeacon, there will be a car ride to a random bar in Yonkers. Then we’ll all settle down for a little TV watching: the NCAA selection show.

At least, that’s the plan for now. Dayton beat Rhody 56-52 Saturday (photos here), setting up a 1 p.m. A10 final today against VCU. Win or lose, the Flyers are going to get on the bus at some point after the game and head to the airport. On the way, they will stop at Burke’s Restaurant and Bar in Yonkers, “home of the world famous $5 burger.”

That’s all ahead of us. For now, let me turn back the clock to yesterday. Here are five things to take from Dayton’s 25th victory.


 

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Scoochie Smith on Saturday. David Jablonski/Staff

1. It wasn’t easy. It rarely is.

There was little chance the Flyers would walk over Rhode Island as they did on Senior Night earlier this month. Nothing’s easy in this tournament. Fortunately, the Flyers have won just as many ugly games as pretty games, and this one was the former.

Here’s the lede of my game story:

Kyle Davis took several deep breaths. He relaxed. He made one free throw. He smiled. He drained another. His grin grew.

A tattoo of the word “confidence” adorns the right arm of Dayton’s sophomore guard. He had plenty of it with the game on the line Saturday at the Barclays Center.

Words of wisdom from senior guard Jordan Sibert gave Davis the extra confidence boost he needed at the line.

“Bro, you’ve got heart,” Sibert said. “Don’t worry about the free throws. You’ve got it.”

The Flyers (25-7) had missed three of their previous four free throws in the final minute, allowing the Rams (22-9) to climb back into the game after trailing 53-47. Dayton led 54-52 when Davis stepped to the line.

“When I made the first one, I felt confident to shoot the second one,” Davis said. “I knew it was going in.”


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Kendall Pollard on Saturday. David Jablonski/Staff

 2. Dyshawn Pierre woke up in time to save the Flyers.

Pierre was having a rough day until the final 10 minutes. Miller yelled at him at one point: “Shoot the ball!” He also said Pierre could sit next to him if he didn’t. Pierre then forced up a bad shot on the next possession.

But then, as Archdeacon wrote, Pierre started playing like a man possessed.

In the first half Saturday, he had made one of seven shots from the floor.

But then everything changed. That’s when he bulldozed the stereotype — and the Rams — flat.

Suddenly no more Mr. Nice Guy.

What happened?

“Sometimes Archie tells me to ‘Get Angry!’ ” Pierre said with a lowered voice as he stood in the back of the postgame dressing room. “Tonight he told me, ‘We need you.’ ”

In his coaching quarters a few feet away, Archie was asked if that had happened.

“I might have said something during a timeout,” the coach admitted. “And at about the nine-minute mark, it was just like he said, ‘Man, enough with the missing.’ He had another gear down the stretch and he carried us.”


 

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Jordan Sibert against the Rams. David Jablonski/Staff

3. We may be tired, but the Flyers say they aren’t.

We took a long cab ride last night after finishing a long day at the arena to P.J. Clarke’s, a famous bar/restaurant in Manhattan. Archdeacon is quite the tour guide, as he’s been to NYC many times before for various events.

I’m sure the Flyers got to bed earlier than we did. They need their rest for their third game in four days, even if they claim to not be tired.

Dayton coach Archie Miller smirked when the inevitable question arose in the postgame press conference about whether his team is tired.

For stretches of the game Saturday against Rhode Island, the Flyers did look gassed. At the key moment, though, they looked possessed by a determination to win, and win they did, 56-52 against Rhode Island in the semifinals of the Atlantic 10 tournament at the Barclays Center.

The players also shot down the idea they might be fatigued by playing on consecutive days.

“No, we don’t get tired,” guard Jordan Sibert said.

“Can’t afford to get tired,” guard Scoochie Smith said.


 

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Scoochie in-bounds the ball. David Jablonski/Staff

4. UD vs. VCU Round 2 should be fun.

The Flyers beat VCU and Rhody in that order two weeks ago in the space of four days. Now they’ll try to reverse that feat and do it on back-to-back days.

Here’s a take on the Rams’ victory against No. 1 seed Davidson yesterday from their excellent Around the Horns blogger Chris Kowalczyk, a friend from my OU days.

Momentum is a funny, nebulous concept, but if there was ever proof of how quickly it can shift, it was VCU’s impressive – and for many, unexpected – 93-73 upset of regular season champ Davidson Saturday in the Atlantic 10 Tournament semifinals at Barclays Center.

Left for dead a little over a week ago by some prognosticators, VCU is back to wreaking havoc on brackets. The Rams are storming into the A-10 title game for the third straight year Sunday, where they’ll take on Dayton. The Flyers topped Rhode Island in Saturday’s semifinal nightcap. It will be VCU’s fifth straight appearance in a conference championship game.

Just days ago, VCU’s victory would have been considered as unlikely as a Knicks winning streak. At times, the Rams made it look easy against Davidson, hitting 12 three-pointers on the way to victory.


 

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Archie Miller leaves the court. David Jablonski/Staff

5. Seeding on line today.

I think the Flyers could potentially move up to a No. 7 seed if they win today, but they might be locked into that 8-9 game no matter what.

Joe Lunardi has them as a No. 9 seed. Jerry Palm has them as a No. 8. The Bracket Matrix has their average seed as a 9. They’re 28th in the RPI


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