Tough Defense and Clutch Shooting Lift Flyers over St. Joe’s

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By: Andrew Wong – Staff Writer

After a slow start, the Dayton men’s basketball team managed to pull out another tough home victory by defeating the Saint Joseph’s Hawks 77-70 on Tuesday night.

Although the Hawks were coming into this game with a conference record of 3-7, the Flyers did not have it easy. A slump in the first half had the Flyers begin the game shooting at three-for-11 from the field and one-for-seven from three-point range. The offense simply wasn’t clicking and forced shots ended up hurting the Flyers as St.Joe’s went on a 7-0 run to take a 14-11 lead at the 11:30 mark in the first half.

The Flyers eventually began matching buckets with the Hawks, and then two consecutive takeaways helped push UD back in front.

While the Flyers had a strong defensive presence, they continued to struggle shooting, and ended the half at the score tied at 32 and the team shooting 13-36 (36.1%) from the field and four-14 (28.6%) from three.

In the second half, the Flyers turned things around in terms of shooting. They slowed down offensive possessions, which created more ball movement and open shots.

This led to three open treys by Darrell Davis and saw the Flyers amass a 14-point lead. A late run by St. Joe’s, and sloppy play by Dayton allowed the Hawks to cut the deficit to 5 points with one minute remaining. But UD locked down it’s defense in the closing seconds, preventing St. Joe’s from climbing back in it.

The Flyers were led by strong efforts by seniors Kendall Pollard and Charles Cooke who scored 19 and 16 points respectively. Senior guard Scoochie Smith also came in clutch by scoring 11 of his 13 points in the second half. He also dished out eight assists.

When asked how the team was able to overcome the slow start, Williams said, “We try not to get down on ourselves, and move onto the next play and just hit the big shots.”

While the Flyers played well on the court, a surprising sight was seeing redshirt sophomore guard Josh Cunningham, who has been sidelined since November, on the team bench fully dressed. All players were noticeably more excited about Cunningham’s presence.

“We definitely got an energy boost from Josh’s presence, and momentum to go out to play for him,” Pollard said. “We honestly wished he got to go out there and play.”

Head coach Archie Miller was also excited about Cunningham’s recovery process, yet remained cautious. He stated “Josh is available to play, we just have to figure out if the time is right…He’s just not the same Josh from pre-season.”

Now at 18-5 and 9-2 in conference, the Flyers look to continue to build on their 3-game win streak by taking on the University of Rhode Island Rams on Friday, Feb. 10 at Rhode Island.
Photo Courtesy of Andrew Wong