For the second straight game in The Bahamas, the University of Dayton Flyers came up short against a quality opponent. After losing to Wisconsin by one point Wednesday, the Flyers fittingly threw in a turkey on Thanksgiving Day and dropped a 76-64 decision to North Carolina State.
NASSAU, The Bahamas — When soft-spoken, easy-going, mild-mannered Anthony Grant is slapped with a technical foul in a game, something is wrong.
When the University of Dayton basketball coach gets hit with technical fouls in back-to-back games, something is monumentally stressful.
Grant was T’d up Wednesday during UD’s loss to Wisconsin. Grant was smacked with another on Thanksgiving Day against North Carolina State.
So what is wrong, why is Grant uncharacteristically demonstrative?
Most likely it is because his Flyers are slip sliding away from opportunities to win a statement game, a signature game to impress the NCAA folks come tournament selection time.
If the Flyers don’t win the Atlantic 10 tournament, their fate rests in the hands of the NCAA selection committee. Statement games and signature wins are important.
And the Flyers are still looking for one.
After losing by one point to Wisconsin in the first round of the Battle 4 Atlantis, the Flyers were defrocked and destroyed Thursday by North Carolina State, 76-64
The Flyers have only one more opportunity to beat a Power Five team and that will be challenging, a December 7 appointment at Virginia Tech.
What makes it so frustrating for the Flyers is that just like their loss to UNLV when they led by 10 in the first half, they led by 10 in the first half against North Carolina State.
After shooting miserably from the outside against Wisconsin, the Flyers took their game inside against NC State. Toumani Camara and DaRon Holmes II ruled the paint like Sherwin-Williams.
The Flyers grabbed a 19-9 lead and 17 points came in the paint with 12 minutes left in the half. But the Wolfpack regrouped and outscored the Flyers 27-13 the rest of the half to take a 36-32 lead.
UD stayed within reachable distance to start the second half and actually grabbed a 39-38 lead on a Malachi Smith free throw when an NC State player was called for bad acting while flopping. There were 15 minutes to play and UD was functioning properly.
Then the Flyers lapsed into a drought that would affect a thirsty camel. . .a 17-0 run by the Wolfpack in less than five minutes. Within a blink of a camel’s eye, UD was down, 55-39, and done.
At the end of that run is when Grant drew his technical. And in the middle of the run Mustapha Amzil was assessed a technical for mouthiness when he was called for a foul.
That bit of crankiness cost the Flyers four points.
When they led, 39-38, the old bugaboo, turnovers, came into play. Two straight turnovers led the Wolfpack baskets for a 42-39 NC State lead. And alL the Flyers saw the rest of the night was NC State’s license plates.
The Flyers did put on a mini-run, a 7-0 sprint that drew them within 10, 62-52, with 6:53 to go. Then it happened again, two more turnovers, three NC State points and a 65-52 lead.
Once again the Flyers displayed resolve and a refusal to quit and scrambled back to within eight, 72-64, with a couple of minutes left.
But Jerkel Joiner hit four straight free throws in the last minute to finish it. He scored 10 of NC State’s last 13 points. Joiner was a machete in UD’s side all night with 27 points. He was 7 for 12 (2 for 5 from three) and 11 for 13 from the foul line.
With the Flyers concentrating on getting shots with their noses close to the rim, the big men provided the offense. Camara led UD with 19 points and Holmes was close behind with 17.
Nobody else was in doubles as Malachi Smith scored nine, R.J. Blakney chipped in with eight on 4 of 5 shooting that included a two-handed thunder dunk.
But Kobe Elvis, averaging 12 a game, scored two on 1 for 5 shooting.
Of Dayton’s 64 points, 46 came in the paint. Once again, though, the Flyers were far off target on three attempts, 2 for 11 (18.3%) And once again they were negligent in protecting the basketball, 18 turnovers. They had 17 against Wisconsin and 24 against UNLV.
The Flyers actually shot 49.1% on 26 for 53. Subtract the 2 for 11 in trey attempts and they were 24 for 42 (57.1 %).
But the missed threes and turnovers, many at crunch time, assured the Flyers that their record dipped to 3-3.