For the second game in a row in the Bahamas, the University of Dayton Flyers fell short against a good opponent. After losing to Wisconsin by one point on Wednesday, the Flyers fittingly threw in a turkey on Thanksgiving Day, dropping a 76-64 decision in North Carolina state.
NASSAU, The Bahamas — When sweet-natured, easy-going, soft-spoken Anthony Grant gets a technical foul in a match, something is wrong.
When the University of Dayton basketball coach is hit with technical fouls in back-to-back games, something is immensely stressful.
Grant got a T’d 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 unusually demonstrative?
Most likely it’s because his Flyers are slipping away from opportunities to win a statement game, a signature game to impress the NCAA folks during tournament selection.
If the Flyers fail to 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 one point to Wisconsin in the first round of the Battle 4 Atlantis, the Flyers were ejected and destroyed by North Carolina State, 76-64, on Thursday
The Flyers have only one more chance to beat a Power Five team and it’s going to be a challenge: a December 7 appointment at Virginia Tech.
What makes it so frustrating for the Flyers is that, like their loss to UNLV when they led 10 in the first half, they were leading 10 in the first half against North Carolina State.
After firing miserably from the outside against Wisconsin, the Flyers went in against NC State. Toumani Camara and DaRon Holmes II ruled the paint as Sherwin-Williams.
The Flyers took a 19-9 lead and 17 points came into play with 12 minutes left in the half. But the Wolfpack regrouped and outscored the Flyers 27-13 the rest of the half to take a 36-32 lead.
UD stayed within reach to start the second half, even taking a 39-38 lead on a free throw by Malachi Smith when an NC State player was called for bad acting on the flop. There were still 15 minutes to play and UD was functioning properly.
Then the Flyers fell into a drought that would strike a thirsty camel. . .a 17-0 run by the Wolfpack in less than five minutes. In an instant, UD was down, 55-39, and done.
At the end of that run, Grant drew his technical mark. And in the middle of the run, Mustapha Amzil received a technical review for assertiveness when he was called for a foul.
That bit of grumpiness cost the Flyers four points.
As they led, 39-38, the old bugaboo, turnover, came into play. Two straight turnovers led the Wolfpack baskets for a 42-39 NC State lead. And all the Flyers saw for the rest of the night were NC State license plates.
The Flyers did put on a mini-run, a 7-0 sprint that took them in 10, 62-52, with 6:53 left. 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 and scrambled back in eight, 72-64, with minutes remaining.
But Jerkel Joiner hit four free throws in a row in the last minute to finish it off. 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 making shots with their noses close to the rim, the big men took care of the offense. Camara led UD with 19 points and Holmes followed with 17 points.
No one else was in the doubles as Malachi Smith scored nine, RJ Blakney scored with eight on 4 of 5 shootings including a two handed thunder dunk.
But Kobe Elvis, averaging 12 per game, scored two on 1 for 5 shooting.
Of Dayton’s 64 points, 46 came in the paint. But again, the Flyers were far off target on three attempts, 2 for 11 (18.3%). And again they were negligent in protecting the basketball, 18 turnovers. They had 17 against Wisconsin and 24 against UNLV.
In fact, the Flyers shot 49.1% on 26 for 53. Subtract the 2 for 11 on three tries and they were 24 for 42 (57.1%).
But the missed threes and turnovers, many during the crisis, assured the Flyers that their record fell to 3-3.