By: Connor Hanson – Staff Writer
Free throws, free throws and more free throws decided the game for the Flyers as they beat St. Bonaventure for the second time in two meetings.
Dayton’s dynamic guard Scoochie Smith and St. Bonaventure’s Jaylen Adams, did most of their damage from the charity stripe rather than in the paint in the Flyers 76-72 win over the Bonnies Saturday afternoon.
Smith and Adams finished the game a collective 26-31 from the line, and each led his team in scoring with 19 and 35 points respectively.
A vast majority of those points came late in the second half as Smith was sent to the line on intentional fouls. Meanwhile, Adams was in desperation mode, frantically putting up shots to get his team back in it.
Those frantic shots got him fouled twice from behind the arc, which helped preserve the chance of a Bonaventure comeback. Another one of those shots was from at least 10 feet behind the top of the key, as he pulled up and rainbowed an arc to get the Bonnies within two with seconds to go.
Head coach Archie Miller commented on Adam’s offensive prowess during his postgame presser, “I think Jaylen Adams, if he’s not the most unsung point guard in college basketball, then I’m not sure who is at this point, we’ve played against a lot of guys over the years, and I’m not sure there’s one tougher to deal with than him.”
However, that’s when Smith’s name was called. He was sent to the line five times in the last minute and a half, continually trying to ice the game, making the vast majority of his free throws.
“It feels real good [to close out at the line], we’re just trying to keep racking up these wins and work our way towards a championship,” Smith said.
But if one person was to watch the first half of the game and somebody else was to watch the second half, the Dayton teams they would describe would be quite different. The Flyers were basically inept on the offensive end in the first half, failing to generate any penetration into the Bonnies’ zone.
However the second half Flyer team seemed to have pieced together the puzzle, after they overcame what was once a 15 point deficit against the Bonnies.
“We went through a little adversity in the first half, I think we settled down a little bit, got our zone offense together and in the second half we had a lot better offensive and defensive game,” Smith said.
The major difference was the level of penetration that Dayton was able to get in the teeth of the Bonnies’ defense and then the defensive effort that Miller was able to get out of his players. Kyle Davis, among others, generated turnovers for the Flyers, who finished the game with 14 takeaways.
And as what holds true for basically all teams, good defense leads to good offense. That defensive presence aided in fast breaks and a swing in momentum for the Flyers, giving them more confidence on the offensive end.
Then just like that, the Flyer Faithful watched as the lead was cut down to ten, then five and before you knew it, it was a brand new game with ten minutes to go.
That’s when Dayton showed its veteran presence as they stuck together, finding open teammates, helping each other on defense, doing everything they could to gain and hold their lead until the buzzer rang and the clock stuck triple zeros.
This is Dayton’s ninth win in ten games as they look to finish the season strong with only four games remaining in the regular season.
Their next matchup will be against George Mason at UD Arena on Tue., Feb. 21.
Photos courtesy of Joe Miller – Staff Photographer