And then there were two. The Dayton Flyers and VCU Rams advanced in two very different games, VCU winning Saturday’s opener in an offensive explosion that shocked regular season champ Davidson, the nation’s sixth highest scoring offense. VCU dropped 93 on the Cats, tying the Rams’ second best output of the season. Dayton followed that up by defeating the league’s stingiest defense, outlasting Rhody in a 56-52 rock fight that advances the Flyers to their first A-10 title game since 2011. The last time Dayton won an Atlantic 10 title? 2003. Their Director of Basketball Operations that season? A young Shaka Smart.
A quick look at yesterday’s action:
VCU 93 – DAVIDSON 73
VCU looked to bounce back from a 27-point drubbing handed to the Rams just 10 days ago at Belk Arena. That looked very much in doubt early as the Wildcats opened the game with a 16-4 advantage. From there on out however it was virtually all VCU, as the Rams would turn a rough start into a 16-point halftime lead. Davidson threatened late, cutting VCU’s advantage to five before the black and gold answered with a 10-run and another double-digit lead they would only expand on to punch their ticket to Sunday’s title game. VCU’s Treveon Graham was money as usual (18 points, 9 rebounds) but the Rams got a dominating performance in the paint from Mo Alie-Cox as well (18 points, 8 rebounds) that helped open up great looks for VCU’s shooters from deep. The Rams were relatively cold offensively coming into this game but hit 50% of their 24 three-point attempts in yesterday’s win. Davidson’s starting five did all they could to keep things close, with Kalinoski (19 points), Barham (18) and Gibbs (18) all filling up the stat sheets. The Cats got just five bench points however and shot a very un-Davidson 26.9% from deep, dooming the Wildcats in yesterday’s loss.
DAYTON 56 – RHODE ISLAND 52
Rhode Island’s stingy D did a solid job but #TrueTeam proved too true and too much team for the Rams, outlasting Rhody in the 56-52 defensive battle. Dayton struggled to connect on the three-ball, hitting just 15.4% of their threes to URI’s 50% mark (8-16) but connected on 55.9% inside the arc in a game shot-blocking sensation Hassan Martin was held blockless. Turnovers proved to be the difference in last night’s game, Rhode Island struggling in the backcourt to the tune of 21 turnovers. That sloppy play allowed the Flyers a seven field goal attempt advantage in the four-point win. Dayton’s Jordan Sibert forced five of those turnovers, grabbing a game-high five steals and leading Dayton with a team-high 12 points. Four of those points helped open up a Flyer lead with the game tied at 47. A layup at just under three minutes gave the Flyers a two-point advantage. Two Kyle Davis free throws increased that to four. Then Sibert turned a Scoochie Smith steal into a six point advantage with just 1:09 remaning. Two URI free throws and a Jarred Terrell three with 22 seconds remaining made things interesting, but Davis once again hit two clutch free throws to ice the game and punch Dayton’s ticket to Sunday’s championship game.
Dayton v VCU
Kenpom: 66-65 VCU
Vegas: VCU -3