By: Michael Crouchley – Staff Writer
The Flyers were coming off of their biggest win of the season against St. Bonaventure to take on a shorthanded UMass team with two of their starters suspended for the game. Despite that, Dayton fell to the Minutemen, 62-60, at UD Arena Saturday afternoon.
Striking from deep in the first half
Dayton began the game hot, making seven of their first ten attempts from three to pull out to an eleven point lead early, their largest of the game. The rest of the first half saw UMass inch their way back towards the lead, but Dayton was able to maintain a five point lead going into halftime.
This was in large part due to strong play from freshman guard Jalen Crutcher, who lead the team with nine points at the break and ended as the Flyers high scorer with 14. UMass coach Matt McCall recruited Crutcher during his stay at Chattanooga, and had some kind words to say after his strong performance.
“He’s gonna have a great career, I knew it when he was a junior in high school.”
Persistent second half woes
The second half was a different story for the Flyers. Dayton’s shooting fell flat, and they were only able to connect on 27.3 percent of their three point attempts. UMass took advantage of the Flyers’ slow start and relinquished UD’s lead early in the second half.
“The first two possessions of the second half resulted in turnovers and easy opportunities going the other way for [UMass],” coach Anthony Grant said, visibly frustrated. “You go from up ten and in a span of seven or eight minutes you’re down eight. That’s hard to overcome.”
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Close, but not close enough
The rest of the second half saw the Flyers trying to claw back into the game. Only a few games after coming back from injury, junior forward Xeyrius Williams gave the Flyers a much needed boost off the bench to keep them in the game.
Williams scored two consecutive three-point baskets, briefly giving the Flyers back a lead and helping to inject energy back into the team and the arena.
“I’m really trying to buy in on the defensive end. Just make all the hustle plays I can,” Williams said.
With six minutes left UMass had pulled out to an eight point lead largely thanks to Luwane Pipkins, who finished with 25 points, four assists, and two steals. Redshirt junior forward Josh Cunningham, did all he could to get the Flyers back into a position to win at the end of the game.
He scored five of his twelve points the last six minutes of the game as well as getting a crucial block on the defensive end. The Flyers had a chance to tie or win when they got possession with 19 seconds left, but senior guard Darrell Davis couldn’t get the layup to fall at the buzzer.
“UMass came in and played very hungry and passionate,” Grant said.
“I thought their energy for most of the game was better than ours which resulted in the outcome of the game.”
The Flyers are back in action on Tuesday night, when they head to Virginia to take on the Richmond Spiders.
Photo Taken from daytondailynews.com – Taken by David Joblonski – DDN Staff Writer