By: Daniel Massa – Staff Writer
The University of Dayton men’s basketball team improved its record to 6-1 this season with a 73-64 victory over Eastern Michigan Saturday at UD Arena.
Sophomore forward Kendall Pollard led the Flyers with a career-high 16 points and also grabbed nine rebounds, matching a career high.
Missing out on even more scoring opportunities, Pollard continued his struggles at the free throw line, converting only six of his 14 attempts.
“I need to practice those [free throws],” Pollard said. “It’s not frustrating when I don’t get to the line. It’s frustrating when I do because if I don’t hit my shots that stays with me for five plays.”
Junior forward Dyshawn Pierre and senior guard Jordan Sibert each chipped in with 15 points. Pierre, who struggled earlier in the week at Miami (OH), responded with a strong performance shooting six-of-seven from the field. Sibert also came down with a career-high seven rebounds.
“My teammates and coaches talked to me and said that they needed me to be more aggressive and to just forget about bad games that I’ve had,” Pierre said. “It was good to see the ball go into the basket today, and I’m happy I could help my team get a win.”
Eastern Michigan’s fourth-year head coach, Rob Murphy, a former Syracuse assistant, brought Syracuse’s famed zone defense with him to UD Arena.
The Flyers appeared to get more comfortable against the zone as the game went along, shooting 54 percent in the second half to finish the game, a 21-46 mark, good for 45.7 percent.
Head coach Archie Miller and his staff often placed Pierre at the free throw line to help penetrate the zone. Pierre drew some high praise from his coach after the game.
“He’s the best I’ve been around other than Derrick Williams [whom Miller coached as an assistant at Arizona] who plays for the [Sacramento] Kings,” Miller said of Pierre’s ability to play against the middle of a zone. “He’s great in tight spaces.”
Both teams struggled a bit early on the offensive end, with the Flyers heading into halftime shooting 36.4 percent, while the Eagles converted only 32.1 percent of their first half field goal attempts. Dayton took a 28-26 lead into halftime.
The second half was quite an up-and-down affair, as the Flyers stormed out of the gate to take an 11-point lead with 17:03 left in the half. The Eagles, though, clawed their way back into the game behind the play of Raven Lee, who had 16 second-half points, including a free throw to tie the game at 56 with 5:50 left.
Dayton responded with a 9-0 run to take a 65-56 lead with 1:47 left, and EMU never got closer than seven points for the rest of the game.
The Flyers end their three-game stretch of Mid-American Conference opponents when they host Bowling Green Tuesday at 7 p.m. at UD Arena.
The Falcons are 5-1 on the season and are led by first-year head coach Chris Jans, who was previously an associate head coach at Wichita State.
On the court, Richaun Holmes, an imposing presence at six feet eight inches and 245 pounds, leads Bowling Green in both points and rebounds, averaging 12.7 points and 8.8 boards per game. He is also tied for 30th in the nation among all Division I players in blocked shots, rejecting 2.67 per game.
“I think the game on Tuesday will be as physical of a game we’ve played all season,” Miller said. “We’re going to have be locked in and ready to go.”