First thoughts after Dayton’s come-from-behind victory on the road.
By PAUL GOTHAM
In what will be remembered as a resume-building triumph that turned sour, the Dayton Flyers erased a halftime deficit and defeated the Alabama Crimson Tide, 77-72 at Coleman Coliseum Tuesday afternoon. Senior point guard Scoochie Smith scored 13 of his game-high 20 points in the second stanza to lead UD to its second win in as many tries on the season.
Turning the Tide
Alabama converted eight first-half Dayton turnovers into a 12-3 advantage in points off miscues going into the the locker room. That’s all the Tide would get. Dayton committed three turnovers in the second half and outscored their opponent 7-0 in the category after the break. The biggest turnover and bucket coming from a Scoochie steal and dunk to make it a one-point game at 44-43. Begs the question again: Why wasn’t Scoochie Smith included on the Cousy Award Watch List? Why? Who let all the crickets into the room?
Absorbing the punches
No surprise with Kendall Pollard injured and on the bench and Josh Cunningham picking up his second foul less than three minutes into the game, but Alabama out rebounded Dayton 40-28 including 18-5 on the offensive glass. The Tide used that for a 12-9 advantage in second-chance points. Several possessions with multiple offensive boards inflates the numbers.
Alabama scored on its first four possession and raced to a 10-2 lead. UD took ‘Bama out of its flow when the Crimson Tide tried to exploit a height advantage in the post. Using the help-side post, the Flyers doubled the ball on the block and forced hurried shots and turnovers holding Alabama without a field goal for its next 10 possessions. At the same time, UD’s offense found itself. Ryan Mikesell gave the Flyers their first lead at 12-11 with two from the charity stripe. Sam Miller finished at the back end of the press break for a 15-13 UD edge.
Play of the game
Clinging to a one-point edge inside a minute to go in the game, Darrell Davis nearly fumbled away the ball when Scoochie came and gathered the offense. With the shot clock winding down, the senior drove the lane, went to his left and finished high off the glass to give the Flyers a three-point lead. He missed a chance for an and-one, but a steal on the defensive end sent Scoochie to the line where he made it a two-possession game with 34.2 remaining.
Charles Cooke gave UD a lead it would not surrender when the senior converted two free throws with 2:14 remaining. The Flyers defense forced a contested shot at the other end, and Scoochie found Mikesell in the corner for three and a two-possession advantage at 68-64. Alabama made it a one-point game when Corban Collins converted an and-one, but Scoochie and Dayton responded on the next possession.
Cooke finished with 19 for Dayton. Cunningham and Mikesell added a dozen a piece. Collins and Braxton Key both finished with 15 for Alabama. Damon Ingram had 14 points and game-high seven assists.
Success against the SEC
Dayton has won 14 of 17 including its last five against the SEC. The Flyers are 4-1 all time against Alabama and 31-12 in the last nine years against schools from Power Five conferences.
Just can’t wait to get on the road again...
Dayton was 8-2 in true road games last season. Tuesday was the first such win this year.
Cunningham looked to put an exclamation point on the win with a dunk when he landed awkwardly on his left leg. Nothing conclusive as of yet, but it is hard to imaging him returning to the lineup any time soon. Couple that with Pollard’s injury and the off-season passing of Steve McElvene, and the Flyers are left thin in the front court.
Dayton hosts No. 17 Saint Mary’s on Saturday. A 2 p.m. tip is scheduled. Alabama hosts Ball State on Friday. A 9 p.m. start is scheduled.