Turnovers plague short-handed Flyers in shock 55-54 loss to Fordham

Much like their last-second 57-55 loss to La Salle on Dec. 30, the Flyers were once again shocked by an A10 opponent, falling 55-54 to Fordham Tuesday night. Photo courtesy of Griffin Quinn, Flyer News.

Peter Burtnett
Sports Editor

An upset-minded Fordham team shocked the highly favored University of Dayton Flyers 55-54 in the Bronx Tuesday night, led to their first win over Dayton in 15 years by 50 percent shooting from 3-point range and a 20-point outburst from redshirt sophomore Chris Austin. 

Dealing with injuries to several players, the Flyers were without Rodney Chatman and R.J. Blakney in what turned out to be a shocking loss to the Rams. 

The Flyers tried to find their groove early, but a pair of threes from freshman forward Mustapha Amzil gave the Flyers a 7-5 lead at the first media timeout with 14:52 remaining in the first half. Redshirt senior Jordy Tshimanga knocked down a pair of free throws to extend the lead to 9-5 on the other side of the timeout.

After a 3-pointer by Fordham sophomore guard Kyle Rose to cut the Flyers lead to 11-10, the Rams called a timeout with 12:40 remaining in the half. By the under-12 media timeout with 11:01 left in the half, a three by redshirt freshman forward Zimi Nwokeji helped give the Flyers a 14-12 lead.

Turnovers and missed shots plagued the Flyers, the lead holding at two points, 18-16 with 8:00 left in the first half. Shooting just 5-14 from the field and turning the ball over 5 times, the Flyers allowed a team that lost their first two games by a combined 61 points to stay close early.

Turnovers continued to mount for the Flyers, and by the time Rose knocked down another three, the Rams had tied the game at 22 with 4:58 left in the half, Fordham calling timeout after the make.

For the third time in the first half, a Flyer was fouled just before the media timeout, with redshirt senior guard Jalen Crutcher fouled on a lay-up attempt with 3:54 left in the half. Crutcher knocked down one of two free throws to extend the Flyers’ lead to 25-22, and his point total to 9 points, made up mostly of lay-ups and three free throws. 

The Flyers’ pedestrian start continued for the final four minutes of the first half. Shooting 7-20 (35 percent) from the field and 3-11 (27 percent) from 3-point range, the Flyers led just 27-24 at halftime. 

Turnovers (11) hurt the Flyers throughout the first half, though the Flyers led rebounds considerably (20-12). Crutcher led the way with 9 points, but was joined by Amzil (6), Tshimanga (5), and Nwokeji (5). Redshirt senior guard Ibi Watson was held scoreless in the first half, shooting 0-2 from the field. 

At halftime, ESPN+ briefly showed the Flyers running through their offense, something the broadcast crew had never seen before. 

The second half appeared to be starting better for the Flyers, as Amzil and Watson knocked down a pair of lay-ups. However, a 3-pointer by Austin followed by a Fordham timeout trimmed the Flyers lead to 31-27 with 17:54 left in the game.

A quick pair of threes from freshmen guards Koby Brea and Amzil helped extend the Flyers lead to 36-29 at the under-16 media timeout with 15:44 remaining. 

The following four minutes favored the Rams, with Austin knocking down another three, though the Flyers got three of their own after Nwokeji was fouled on a driving lay-up and Rams head coach Jeff Neubauer picked up a technical foul. Crutcher took the free throws and split them, but Nwokeji was able to knock down both. The Flyers took a 39-34 into the under-12 media timeout with 11:27 left in the game. 

The Flyers struggles continued, and a pair of lay-ups by Rams sophomore forward Joel Soriano (even with 4 fouls) cut the Flyers’ lead to just 43-41 with 8:29 left in the game, prompting Neubauer to call his final timeout of the game after Soriano’s second successive lay-up.

A big sequence for the Rams saw the Flyers lead erased, starting with an and-1 three from senior guard Josh Navarro, giving the Rams a 45-43 lead. The Flyers’ sixth offensive foul of the game led to an Austin three on the other end, and a lay-up by Austin extended the Rams lead to 50-45, forcing the Flyers timeout with 5:10 left in the game. 

On the other end, Watson knocked down a floater, and was then fouled by Soriano, his fifth of the game, and with the game at the final media timeout, the Flyers trailed 50-47 with 3:41 left on the clock.

Watson was a catalyst for the Flyers down the stretch, knocking down one of two free throws and then made a fadeaway jumper to tie the game at 50 with 2:50 left. 45 seconds later, Crutcher made a lay-up to give the Flyers a 52-50 lead with 2:05 remaining. 

Crutcher almost got a dagger three off in time, but the buzzer went off for a shot clock violation with 1:17 remaining.

Navarro made a lay-up on the other end for the Rams, and the Flyers called timeout with 46.9 seconds left, the game tied at 52. 

Transfer guard Elijah Weaver made a driving floater with 35 seconds left, but Austin responded with a wing three to give the Rams a 55-54. Dayton called a timeout with 18.5 seconds left, trailing by one.

The final play seemed disjointed from the in-bound, and Watson couldn’t get a jumper to go as the buzzer sounded, and the Flyers fell short in a shocking 55-54 defeat to Fordham. 

With the loss, which included 17 turnovers and 17 percent from three (4-23), the Flyers fell to 5-3 overall and 1-2 in A10, while the Rams improved to 1-2, with the same record in A10 play.

Crutcher finished with 14 points, 3 assists, and 3 rebounds, Amzil added 10 points, and Tshimanga finished with a career-high 16 rebounds and 5 points, none of which was enough to overcome a poor performance and injuries that left Chatman and Blakney out of the game. 

The Flyers face Davidson next on the road Friday night.

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