Flyers men’s basketball outscored 15-2 down the stretch against Memphis, fall out of NIT in first round

Flyers junior guard Elijah Weaver finished with a team-high 16 points, but UD fell 71-60 to Memphis in Saturday’s NIT first round game. Photo courtesy of Griffin Quinn, Flyer News.

Peter Burtnett
Sports Editor

In Saturday’s highly-anticipated NIT first round match-up between Dayton and Memphis, the Flyers were outscored 15-2 in the final 6:30 and lost 71-60 to see their season come to an end.

The Flyers were without redshirt senior guard Rodney Chatman and freshman forward R.J. Blakney) were out with injuries (Chatman – sprained MCL, Blakney – calf injury, shut down for next several weeks), giving starts to freshmen Mustapha Amzil and Koby Brea.

With a well-balanced start, the Tigers went into the first media timeout with a 7-6 lead with 15:51 remaining in the half. The Flyers opened 3-4 from the field, but had 2 early turnovers, while the Tigers opened 3-6 from the field.

The two teams held serve, but the Tigers took advantage of a second-chance layup to take a 16-14 lead into the under-12 media timeout with 10:32 left in the first half.

The hot hand of junior guard Elijah Weaver (8 points, 3-3 field goals) helped the Flyers regain the advantage at 21-19 with 7:01 left in the half.

At an efficient clip of 55 percent from the field, the Flyers held the two-point lead at 25-23 when the final media timeout of the first half arrived with 3:53 remaining in the half.

The Flyers missed their next four shots over the next three minutes until a three from Amzil gave UD a 28-27 lead with one minute left. After a possession for each team, Memphis called timeout with 20 seconds left, but couldn’t get a basket to fall, so the Flyers went into halftime up by one.

Amzil and Weaver led the Flyers with 15 points combined, and four of the other five players were on the scoresheet. With their leading scorers, senior guards Ibi Watson and Jalen Crutcher, combining for just 8 points, the rest of the Flyers stepped up in the first half. Averaging 14.6 turnovers per game, the Flyers also cut down on those mistakes, with just five in the first 20 minutes.

The second half opened with a 6-0 Flyers run, but the Tigers responded with a 9-0 run in under two minutes to take a brief lead. The Tigers’ run was halted briefly by a three from Brea, but Memphis extended the run to 16-3, going into the under-16 media timeout with a 43-37 lead with 15:18 left in the second half. 

Watson began to knock down some shots, including a three to cut the deficit to one, but Memphis was fouled on a layup to push the lead to 48-45 with 11:21 remaining in the game.

The Flyers stayed even with the Tigers, taking a brief lead, but the Tigers led 56-55 with 7:14 left in the game.

Another three from Weaver gave the Flyers a two-point lead out of the media timeout, but the Tigers answered with a 8-0 run — helped by a pair of Flyers turnovers — to force a UD timeout and take a 64-58 lead with 5:11 left in the game. The Tigers’ lead then extended to 66-58 at the final media timeout with 3:55 left in the game.

The Tigers’ dominance on the offensive boards (17-2 offensive rebounds) continued to be the difference down the stretch, and Memphis held the Flyers a arm’s length, closing the game with a 15-2 run in the final 6:30 of the game, and closed out a 71-60 win over the Flyers.

Weaver led the Flyers with 16 points, and Watson and Amzil combined for 24 points, but the Flyers fell by 11 to drop to 14-10 and end their season.

In a game with high expectations because of Memphis being his hometown and having connections to Tigers head coach Penny Hardaway, senior guard Jalen Crutcher scored 6 points on 3-10 shooting and 3 assists.

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