Flyers pass first test as ranked team

By: Steven Wright – Sports Editor

The Flyers pulled off a win Wednesday night after a trip to Maui and a new top 25 ranking.

Redshirt senior center Matt Kavanaugh scored 11 points on a perfect 4 for 4 from the field to help lead No. 25 Dayton men’s basketball team to a 56-46 win against Delaware State University Wednesday, Dec. 4, at UD Arena.

UD led 39-30 in the second half with just over 10 minutes left before an 11-0 run over a three minute span gave the team its largest lead of the game.

DSU would make a 13-2 run to cut the lead down to nine with 3:01 left, but got no closer down the stretch.

“When we went up 20, that was really big,” redshirt senior guard Vee Sanford said. “Then they came back and hit some back-to-back threes. … It’s a game of halves and the next play we just kept grinding and pushing forward for the
win.”

The Hornets offense continually ran down the shot clock in an attempt to shorten the game, testing UD’s defense to the final second of every possession. Head coach Archie Miller said he was happy with what he saw defending that style of
play.

“I think they can frustrate you more than Alter High School,” Miller said. “You want fans to be involved in the game and you want your team to play, but you’re going to deal with all different types of circumstances in a season. It’s one of those ones where you’re going to learn your lesson at the end of the clock, ‘Can you guard at the end of the shot clock?’ … It’s something to take away from as a real positive.”

Sanford added 10 for Dayton to go with four rebounds and three assists, making several strong cut moves into the teeth of the multiple zone defenses DSU used.

Senior forward Casey Walker scored 14 points to lead Delaware State. Junior forward Tyshawn Bell also added 14 before fouling out.

DSU did not score its first field goal until seven minutes into the game, after UD had already built a 12-2 lead. They would cut the UD lead down to two with an 8-0 run, the start of the early frustrations Dayton faced in the game.

“Coach told us this game was going to feel a little bit weird because of … the junk defenses,” Sanford said. “It was a little weird and we came out a little flat.”

Dayton led 28-21 at the break, shooting 10-of-21 from the field and not making a 3-pointer.

The Flyers were playing in its first game as an AP top 25 ranked team since Nov. 22, 2009.

Wednesday’s win was the third in Dayton’s last nine contests as an AP top 25 team, and its first as a ranked squad in the month of December of later since 2008.

Kavanaugh said the ranking didn’t make the team feel any different when they took the court. Along with shaking off any rust that accumulated during the six-day layoff from playing, he said you can’t use it as an excuse and hopes the team is ready from the start for its next game against Illinois State University Saturday, Dec. 7, at 8 p.m. EST in Normal, Ill.

“All that really matters to us is the win,” Kavanaugh said. “It might have looked a little bit sloppy, but a sloppy win is better than an exciting loss.”