By: Keith Raad – Sports Editor
While winter storm Pandora raged outside of the Consol Energy Center in Pittsburgh Saturday, Dayton sent its own flurry of 3-pointers toward the rims inside the arena. However, as the tension inside and outside built-up together, it was Duquesne University that frosted Dayton’s hot streak.
“It was like a snowball running downhill, we just couldn’t get a grab on them,” head coach Archie Miller said.
On the road in Pittsburgh at a neutral location, Dayton could not keep with Duquesne, losing 83-73, and dropping to 20-6, 10-4 on the season. The Atlantic 10 Conference loss marks the fourth time in seven tries Dayton has fallen on the road.
Dayton’s “small ball seven” fell victim to the Dukes, but it was damage from the blade of their schedule that pierced the thin squad.
After taking down sophomore A-10 Player-of-the-Year front runner DeAndre Bembry and the St. Joseph’s University Hawks Thursday night at UD Arena in the 68-64 win, the Flyers had one day of rest before the matchup with Duquesne. Not practicing after the team’s bus trip to Pittsburgh, Dayton sluggishly allowed Duquesne to strike.
“Our guys in general won a tough, hard-fought game against Joe’s, some of the same issues that we dealt with today, we had at home,” Miller said. “We just found a way to win at home.”
Forty-two hours since the final buzzer sounded at the UD Arena, Dayton allowed Duquesne to out-score them more than any team this season. On Jan. 1 at UD Arena, Dayton crushed the Dukes, winning by 26 points. This time around, Duquesne attacked the Flyers with their speed.
“From the first of January until today is just a credit to them and their staff,” Miller said. “They were the better team today. I thought they were faster in all aspects.”
Dayton took a 42-41 lead into halftime but could not find much production from the floor. The Flyers took a season-high 33 3-point attempts against Duquesne’s 2-3 zone, hitting only 11. Though the amount of shots from behind the arc complemented the opposing team’s defense, Miller found the number to relate back to mental sluggishness.
“Fourty minutes of zone, you’re going to shoot some threes,” Miller said. “Without watching the film, I’m going to say we passed up a lot of opportunities to punch the gap, get the ball into the paint off the drive.”
Dayton feasted as much as possible with junior forward Dyshawn Pierre, who had a career-high 27 points and 12 rebounds, but his production was not enough.
“Dyshawn was probably the only bright spot in today’s game,” Miller said. “If Jordan [Sibert’s] not going to hit, Kyle [Davis] is not going hit. Darrell [Davis’] really not going to hit. It’s going to be tough. 33 [3-pointers] are way too much for our team which says a lot about we couldn’t get the job done.”
Though Dayton had quicker turnarounds during their tournament in Puerto Rico in November, playing the University of Connecticut 28 hours after Texas A&M, the conference matchup and the shorter lineup raised Dayton’s white flag toward the middle of the second half.
“I don’t have any excuses,” Miller said. “I’ve been in the Pac-12. I’ve seen Thursday night games, Saturday night turnarounds and I’ve seen guys play terrific. You can use that if you want, but we could have had 10 days of practice and played with that kind of energy and toughness, and Duquesne is going to get the same result. They were better today — much faster, much quicker.”
During most of the game, Duquesne found success switching on high-low ball screens to get loose down low. Too many times did Dayton allow the Dukes inside.
“A lot of that stems from slow minds and slow feet,” Miller said. “The other team had us on our heels. This was probably the first time in a while that we were searching for answers [on defense.] We didn’t stick to our guns.”
Pierre’s big day loomed over the score sheet higher than others, including sophomore forward Kendall Pollard being, in Miller’s words, “a nonfactor.”
Pollard’s 10 points are his lowest in a full game since Jan. 14. Inside the perimeter with Pierre, Pollard did not have many opportunities to get free in the paint, kicking the ball out to Dayton’s three guards in 3-point land.
Redshirt senior guard Jordan Sibert missed nine of his 12 3-pointers, both Kyle and Darrell Davis shot a combined 2-for-11 from long-range.
With the loss to Duquesne, Dayton’s Ratings Percentage Index (RPI) of 29 dropped to 38 due to the likes of Duquesne’s RPI of 254. Dayton sees four more conference games before the Atlantic 10 Tournament: George Mason University, VCU, the University of Rhode Island, and La Salle University.
“It’s disappointing, but at the same time, it’s what happens when you play in a conference like this,” Miller said. “You’ve got to battle the ups-and-downs of winning and losing, fatigue, adversity, you name it. I’m not going to sit here and apologize for our team. We just weren’t very good today. Probably didn’t deserve to win.”
The Flyers match up with George Mason University 7 p.m. Wednesday at UD Arena, where the Flyers are unbeaten this year.
The Patriots sit last in the league in 14th place (8-18, 3-11), but boast of the A-10’s best first year players in Shevon Thompson. Thompson is the only conference player averaging a double-double with 14 points and 13 rebounds per contest. Dayton defeated George Mason 84-67 on the road last season.