By: Brendan Zdunek – Staff Writer
With final exams around the corner, students packed UD Arena one last time to watch Flyer men’s basketball before Christmas break. Unfortunately, it was not much of a celebration as Dayton lost to the Penn Quakers, 78-70.
“Being honest, I don’t feel like we [had the energy and focus that we needed to] for 40 minutes tonight,” said Head Coach Anthony Grant. “We should have no bad nights with effort, no bad nights with communication, no bad nights with an attitude to put us in the best position to win. I got to do a better job with our group.”
Grant’s analysis applied particularly to the start of the game. Dayton shot poorly, just three-for-10, as the Quakers got off to a 21-7 lead in the first eight minutes of the game. In those eight minutes, the Flyers also committed four turnovers.
After the sloppy play to begin the game, the Flyers scored 14 unanswered points to tie it up at 21 with about seven minutes to play in the half. For the rest of the half, the two teams exchanged the lead multiple times before UD tied it up at 35 just before halftime.
In the second half, the Flyers tried their best to keep up with Penn, but the Quakers’ hot offense (59 percent from three-point distance) kept them in front. In spite of that, Dayton made it as close as 62-61 at one point with couple of layups by forward Matej Svoboda and guard John Crosby, which got the fans at UD Arena up on their feet.
However, Penn’s shooting barrage was insurmountable for Dayton. In the end, the Flyers fell back below .500 to 4-5 on the season.
On another note, forward Josh Cunningham had a great night as he went a perfect nine-for-nine from the field, including one three-pointer. But his big-time effort was not enough.
“They just came out and brought more energy than us,” said Cunningham. “They came out punching first and that’s why they had the advantage of the whole game.”
The loss to Penn is Dayton’s first loss to an Ivy League school in the Flyers’ program history. They were previously 13-0.
Up next for the men’s team is another home game next Saturday against Georgia State. After the fifth loss of the season, many fans may wonder where the direction is from here. But right now Grant is focused on motivating the team to get to their next level of performance.
“This is one game and it’s a long season,” said Grant. “We’ve got a lot of maturing and a lot of growth to do.”
Photos by Griffin Quinn/Staff Photographer