In their second straight game in the Bahamas, the University of Dayton Flyers came up short against a quality opponent. After losing by a point to Wisconsin on Wednesday, the Flyers appropriately threw in a turkey on Thanksgiving Day and dropped a 76-64 decision against North Carolina State.
NASSAU, Bahamas — When the soft-spoken, easy-going, and mild-mannered Anthony Grant is hit with a technical foul in a game, something is wrong.
When the University of Dayton basketball coach is hit by technical fouls in back-to-back games, there’s something tremendously stressful.
Grant was t’d up during UD’s loss to Wisconsin on Wednesday. Grant was hit with another on Thanksgiving Day against North Carolina State.
So what’s wrong, why is Grant uncharacteristically demonstrative?
Most likely it’s because his Flyers are slipping away from the odds of winning a statement game, a signature game to impress the NCAA folks when tournament pick time comes.
If the Flyers don’t win the Atlantic 10 tournament, their fate rests in the hands of the NCAA selection committee. Statement games and signature wins are important.
And the Flyers are still looking for one.
After losing by a point to Wisconsin in the first round of Battle 4 Atlantis, the Flyers were impeached and destroyed by North Carolina State, 76-64, on Thursday
The Flyers have just one more opportunity to beat a Power Five team, and that will be a challenge, a December 7 appointment at Virginia Tech.
What makes it so frustrating for the Flyers is that just like their loss to UNLV when they led by 10 in the first half, they led by 10 in the first half against North Carolina State.
After shooting miserably from the outside against Wisconsin, the Flyers took their game inside against NC State. Toumani Camara and DaRon Holmes II ruled the paint like Sherwin-Williams.
The Flyers took a 19-9 lead and 17 points went into halftime with 12 minutes left. But the Wolfpack regrouped and outplayed the Flyers 27-13 for the rest of the half to take a 36-32 lead.
UD stayed within reach early in the second half, even taking a 39-38 lead on a Malachi Smith free throw when an NC State player was called for poor performance on the flop. It was 15 minutes to play and UD worked flawlessly.
Then the Flyers fell into a drought that would hit a thirsty camel. . .a 17-0 run by the Wolf Pack in less than five minutes. Within the blink of an eye, UD was down, 55-39, and done.
At the end of that run, Grant pulled his technique. And in the middle of the run, Mustapha Amzil was awarded a technical error for a foul play.
That bit of eccentricity cost the Flyers four points.
When they led 39-38, the old bugbear, turnovers, came into play. Two consecutive turnovers gave Wolfpack Baskets a 42-39 NC State lead. And all the Flyers saw for the rest of the night were NC State license plates.
The Flyers pulled off a mini-run, a 7-0 sprint that drew them within 10, 62-52, with 6:53 to go. Then it happened again, two more turnovers, three NC State points and a 65-52 lead.
Once again, the Flyers showed determination and a refusal to stop, climbing down to eight, 72-64, with a few minutes left.
But Jerkel Joiner hit four straight free throws in the last minute to end it. He scored 10 of NC State’s last 13 points. Joiner was a machete in UD’s side all night with 27 points. He was 7 for 12 (2 for 5 of three) and 11 for 13 from the foul line.
While the Flyers focused on shooting with their noses close to the rim, the big men took care of the offense. Camara led UD by 19 points and Holmes was just behind by 17 points.
No one else was in doubles as Malachi Smith hit nine, RJ Blakney with eight chips on 4-of-5 shots, including a two-handed thunderdunk.
But Kobe Elvis, who averaged 12 per game, scored two to 1 for 5 shooting.
Of Dayton’s 64 points, 46 came in the paint. Once again, however, the Flyers were wide of the target on three tries, 2 to 11 (18.3%), and once again they were sloppy at protecting the basketball, 18 turnovers. They had 17 against Wisconsin and 24 against UNLV.
The Flyers actually shot 49.1% on 26 for 53. Subtract the 2 for 11 in three tries and they were 24 for 42 (57.1%).
But the missed threes and turnovers, many of them in crunch time, assured the Flyers their record has slipped to 3-3.