By: Steve Miller – Staff Writer
The 19th-ranked Dayton men’s basketball team upended the Duquesne Dukes in the final minutes of a thrilling game Tuesday night, completing a 76-74 comeback victory in front of a boisterous crowd.
The Flyers trailed by as many as 12 points in the second half, but used aggressive offense from junior guards Kyle Davis and Charles Cooke to fight their way to victory over the Dukes.
Duquesne’s offense was led by senior guard Micah Mason, who tallied 27 points, converting seven of eight 3-point attempts, shredding UD’s defense all night.
“I want to give credit to Duquesne: I have a lot of respect for their staff and their players,” head coach Archie Miller said in the postgame press conference. “I knew the first time that we played them without Micah Mason that, for how much he contributes both scoring and passing, this was going to be a much more difficult game.”
With just under six minutes remaining in the game, Mason converted his seventh 3-pointer to put the Dukes up 69-57, Dayton’s second 12-point deficit of the game. They overcame the first one before halftime to tie the game at the break, and they quashed this one with a 13-1 run to tie the game at 70 with 1:37 to play.
After stopping Duquesne yet again, the Flyers gained the lead on a three-pointer from Scoochie Smith, capping a 16-1 run and sending the crowd into a Fat Tuesday frenzy.
Smith’s jumper was the cherry on top of a sweet offensive streak. Davis scored seven of those 16 points, including a 3-point play on a hard drive to the lane.
“I thought he was the key to the game in the last [few minutes],” Miller said of his junior guard after the game.
Cooke led the Flyers with 22 points and had three blocks on the defensive end.
“We just looked at each other in the eyes and said ‘We’re gonna get it done,’” Cooke said of finding his team down with little time remaining. “And we got it done, so I’m happy about that.”
Freshman forward Sam Miller flew under the radar for most of Tuesday night but made key contributions in the Flyers’ win. He scored eight first-half points, including two 3-pointers, and secured two steals during the second-half comeback.
After the game, Archie Miller sang the praises of the Red Scare and home crowd:
“We don’t win that game without that crowd. The last six minutes were about as loud as I’ve heard it in here … That’s the special part about being here and playing here and coaching here—you have that at your fingertips.”
The Flyers are next in action Friday evening at Rhode Island, 11-3 this year at home. The conference matchup will be broadcast on ESPN2 and will tip off at 7 p.m.