The Dayton Flyers played the La Salle Explorers twice this year and unlike most expected, split the series 1-1. Dayton currently sits at 18-3 overall and 2nd in the A10 with an 8-1 conference record. La Salle on the other hand, has a 5-14 overall record and is tied for last in the A10 at 1-7. With so much disparity between the two teams, how did the Flyers not sweep La Salle? Lets take a look at a few of the main reasons.
To start with, Dayton tends to struggle when playing at Tom Gola Arena and when ranked in the top 25. In this year’s first matchup between the two teams, the Flyers were both in the top 25 and on the road to play La Salle. Dayton entered the game not only hoping to move up from No. 25 in the rankings, but also looking to avenge last year’s loss to La Salle. However, the Explorers put those hopes to rest, winning the game by a final score of 61-57.
Going into the game, La Salle knew Dayton had them outmatched in terms of pure talent. In order to offset this, they attempted to slow the game down dramatically and it worked. Seemingly every possession, the Explorers held the ball for most of the shot clock and did not even run any offense until under 10-15 seconds left to shoot. This frustrated the Flyers by not allowing them to get into a rhythm. Even after Dayton took the lead with a few minutes to go, La Salle continued to hold the ball. It worked and La Salle took the first game between the teams this season.
The second game, however, was a slightly different story. La Salle tried to do the same thing and hold the ball, but this time Dayton wasn’t having it. While the Explorers stayed in the game and kept it close, the Flyers were more prepared this time around. They never found a perfect rhythm, but still got the win at home 59-44. Head Coach Archie Miller said after the game that the Flyers looked to get it inside more, did not want to let La Salle off the hook again by shooting threes. They certainly did this by going to Kendall Pollard who led the Flyers with 18 points and also pulled down eight rebounds. Pollard did not play in Dayton’s first game against La Salle this year due to battling an Achilles injury.
After Saturday’s game Archie gave a lot of credit to La Salle, but was happy with the Flyer’s win. “A game like this makes us better, we found a way to win ugly and you need to know how to win different ways,” said Miller after Dayton’s latest game against La Salle. The Flyers now have a week off before going on the road to play George Mason. For La Salle, it doesn’t get any easier. They take on 1st place VCU Wednesday night. This year’s Dayton vs. La Salle series certainly reaffirmed that no wins are guaranteed, anything can happen in college basketball.