Redshirt sophomore Matt Derenbecker got an open look at a 3-pointer to tie the game with seconds remaining, but after it rimmed in-and-out, players were left to scratch at their heads
In a back-and-forth second half, the University of Dayton men’s basketball team came up short again in falling to Xavier University 66-61. The loss extended Dayton’s streak, which started on Jan. 10, 1981, of not winning against Xavier in Cincinnati another year.
Leading by one in the final 32 seconds, Xavier was able to twice gather a rebound off the front end of a missed one-and-one. Sophomore guard Dee Davis finally connected on two free throws following the second offensive rebound, putting Xavier up by three with 18.2 seconds left.
According to head coach Archie Miller, he used his remaining two timeouts to set up a final play after he saw Xavier go into a zone defense it uses to defend inbounds passes.
The shot Dayton wanted would not fall though and a pair of free throws from sophomore forward Justin Martin with a second left sealed the
victory for Xavier.
For the game, Xavier held a 36-18 rebounding advantage and scored 35 second chance points to Dayton’s 10.
“I thought they played with great toughness and great energy,” Miller said. “They willed themselves to a victory there with their ability to rebound the ball. It pretty much starts and
stops with that.”
Dayton was led by redshirt junior guard Vee Sanford, who scored a game-high 16 points on 8-of-13 shooting from the field. Redshirt senior guard Kevin Dillard was the only other Dayton player in double-figures with 12 points, all coming in the second half.
“It was the game I thought we were capable to win, but we got outrebounded and that kind of set us back a little bit,” Dillard said. “To their credit, they played a tough game and we couldn’t get it done. They always make sure they kept one or two bodies in front of me and I was forced to give it up.”
Xavier sophomore guard Dee Davis was awarded the Blackburn-McCafferty MVP award with a 14-point performance, with a 66 percent field goal percentage and made two of his three shots from the 3-point line.
Dayton in a two-minute span in the middle of the first half was able to come up with three consecutive steals, the last of which helped cap an 8-0 run for Dayton to take a 20-19 lead with just over six minutes left in the half.
Derenbecker in the first half went 3-for-4 from 3 before exiting the half with his second foul with 3:46 left.
“We didn’t lose because Matt missed the shot, obviously,” Miller said. “You know, he kept us in the game with some big three’s when things weren’t going really well for us.”
Derenbecker said he stayed positive about his missed shot after the game because it was the same type of shot he always looks for.
“I don’t really want to hang my head because if I get another shot like that again, I’m going to take it and hopefully it goes in this time,” Derenbecker said.
Xavier went into the break with a 31-27 lead, but Dillard helped Dayton get the lead back early in the second half with a pair of 3’s. Xavier quickly answered though with five straight points that was a part of an 11-2 run over four and a half minutes to take a 47-40 lead with 11:03 left.
After a Dayton timeout, it would come back by scoring on three of its next four possessions in cutting the Xavier lead down to two. Still, Dayton could not keep Xavier off the boards enough to get the stops it needed. Miller said Dayton just could not resolve the issue all night, and it’s something the team will have to look at
after the game.
“I think what we’re going to do is take inventory and if some things need to be moved around and if some guys need different roles, we obviously have to go in that direction because of tonight’s loss,” Miller said. “I don’t want to say that we’re soft…but tonight was a night we have to look at that film and say, ‘This was the biggest game of the season. Why wasn’t that
area in check?’”
Dayton has had several close calls to ending the streak the past few seasons, now losing the last four games it has played in the Cintas Center by an average of four points. While Derenbecker’s three would not have sealed a victory, it could have at least gave Dayton five more minutes to get a chance to get one.
“I don’t know if it could have went down any further without rimming out, but the basketball gods don’t reward you when you don’t deserve to win,” he said. “Our team didn’t earn the right to win tonight because we didn’t play with toughness
on the backboard.”