The Dayton Flyers were given all that they could handle from UMass, but they prevailed in the end, 75-72. The win puts Dayton in the semifinals for the first time since the 2016 season.
UMass came out firing on all cylinders, going up by as many as 11 in the first half. Eventually, Malachi Smith and DaRon Holmes led the charge for the Flyers, coming back and making it a two point game going into the half.
Both teams traded blows in the second half, taking it all the way down to the wire. A steal by Toumani Camara with under a minute left led to a pass to an open Smith that put him at the line, where he would make two free throws. Eventually, Dayton would be up by three with UMass having possession. The big story of the game was the “no-foul” call on Dayton on a Noah Fernandes three point attempt. This was a questionable play where the officials called it a foul before the shot, which put Fernandes at the line to shoot two instead of three. Because Dayton was up three, this was a significant call. This, along with many bad calls throughout the night, frustrated teams and fans alike. Dayton would shut the game down with more clutch free throws down the stretch to seal the four point win. The Flyers are in the semi-finals.
Takeaways from the Game
- Dayton came out flat early. This due to part that DaRon Holmes was playing with apparently a non-covid illness. Holmes still finished with 28 points and 5 rebounds, but he was seen on the bench vomiting into a trash can during the game. Even Malachi Smith seemed to be cramping a bit. Both had great efforts, but the rest of the team seemed flat. They can’t get off to that slow of a start against better teams in this tournament.
- Feed the big men. DaRon and Toumani got whatever they wanted down low. They are feeling it and they need to get the ball whenever possible in the next game. They are the key to Dayton winning and getting easy buckets.
- The defense needs to be better. UMass has a good offense, and Dayton let them do whatever they wanted early. It needs to be better, both on switching screens and reading passes to open players. They seemed confused at times, and they have to be better on Saturday.
- The three ball was non-existent. Dayton shot 4-16 from three, good for 25%. UMass did a great job of closing out on shooters, but I really thought the Flyers didn’t do enough to get their guys like Elvis and Brea open on the perimeter. They need more of that game on Saturday.
Semifinal Game Preview
Dayton gets the Richmond Spiders on Saturday, who upset the #3 seeded VCU Rams. The Spiders looked like a completely different team against the Rams, especially on the defensive end. They stifled VCU’s offense and never let them get in any rhythm throughout the game. Jacob Gilyard was unconscious from three, shooting 7-12 from three and had 32 points overall for Richmond.
This game does scare me a bit based on how Richmond played so well against a VCU team that has had their number over the past couple of years. Dayton did not bring their A game against UMass, and that does get me worried for Saturday. The spin-zone for this game is that Dayton needed a game to get going and now they got their legs under them for another game the next day. They got a scare and should be ready for a hard-fought game against Richmond. The Spiders are definitely going to be looking for revenge after Dayton beat them in the Robins Center last week.
No prediction from me this time. I’m too superstitious for that.
Photo Credit: Ibrahim Ahmad from @ByGeorgeGMU