By: Brendan Zdunek – Staff Writer
After narrowly defeating Findlay in an exhibition game last Friday, the Dayton men’s basketball team came back with a fire beneath them and blew out the Austin Peay Governors, 96-68.
Senior guard Charles Cooke scored an overwhelming 24 points in the first half, en route to 31 for the game, as the Flyers dominated Austin Peay on both sides of the ball for the season-christening win.
“The guys were ready to play. Opening night is always an exciting night,” head coach Archie Miller said in the postgame press conference. “I think that helped us and we can’t just thank enough for our fans, with another great crowd.”
Prior to the game, the team held a tribute to the late Flyer center, Steve McElvene. The McElvene family was honored at center court and were given both flowers and the Atlantic 10 championship ring that Steve earned with the team last year.
Additionally, the video boards inside UD Arena displayed a tribute honoring “Big Steve.”After the somber moment for the team and fans, it was game time and the Flyers started off strong with a 16-4 run in the first five minutes.
The Governors started to come back slightly after those five minutes, cutting the lead to four points at the 10:40 mark in the half.
But the Flyers then turned on the jets and never looked back, dominating Austin Peay in every facet of the game.
Led on offense by Cooke, who secured four rebounds and three assists in addition to his 31 points, the Flyers had five players scored in double digits. Cooke was a red-hot 11-of-17 from the field, including five-of-10 behind the three-point line.
“I just wanted to do what I could to give my team a boost. My mindset was to come out and play hard,” said Cooke after the game.
In the second half, junior guard Darrell Davis, started to heat up as well, contributing 11 of his 17 points after halftime.
“[Archie Miller] tells me to keep the same mindset I had from my sophomore year,” said Davis. “So, I’m just practicing a lot and working on my game.”
The Flyers travel to Tuscaloosa, Ala. on Tuesday, Nov. 15 to take on the Crimson Tide in a rematch of last year’s 80-48 UD rout of Alabama.
“The biggest deal going down there for our team is going to be our approach,” said Miller. “Our mentality, our physical and mental toughness on the road against a team that quite frankly has been waiting on us for probably a long time.”