The University of Dayton Flyers were favored in all three games in the Battle 4 Atlantis tournament, but lost all three to Wisconsin, North Carolina State and Brigham Young to finish eighth in the eight-team field. The last one came Friday to BYU in overtime and hurt the most because the Flyers blew a 32-9 first-half lead.
NASSAU, The Bahamas — If there is an area below rock bottom, the University of Dayton basketball team found it and plopped into it Friday afternoon.
The Flyers lost their third game in three disastrous days at the Bad Boys Mower Battle 4 Atlantis tournament.
And how they lost Friday to Brigham Young, 79-75, in overtime is beyond comprehension, beyond belief and beyond explanation.
The Flyers led by 23 points in the first half, 32-9, and they led at the half by 16, 40-24.
They couldn’t have played better in the first half. But the final 25 minutes was a study in how to lose a basketball game in one easy lesson.
After making 4 of 10 three-point shots in the first half, BYU rained threes on the Flyers like a thunderstorm arriving off the coast of Pig Beach. The Cougars hit 9 of 17 in the second half, two of three in overtime.
From the time the Flyers led by 32-9 with 7 1/2 minutes left in the first half, the Cougars outscored UD, 70-44.
So the highly-hyped Flyers, perhaps over-hyped, finished eighth in the eight-team field and their record crashed to 3-and-4.
It was the first time UD lost all three games of a November tournament since 1992, when they lost three straight to Illinois, UAB and Alaska-Anchorage in the Great Alaska Shootout.
The Flyers were favored in all three games and owned double digit first-half leads in all three games, but lost to Wisconsin, North Carolina State and BYU.
When the Flyers led, 32-12, DaRon Holmes II had outscored the Cougars, 14-12, and flushed five slam dunks. After scoring 14 in the first half with ease, he had to work extremely hard to score seven in the second half.
The Flyers were put in dire straits because top rebounder Toumani Camara sat nine minutes of the first half with foul trouble and fouled out with three minutes left in regulation and the Flyers clutching to a 62-60 lead.
Kobe Elvis, one of UD’s most reliable scorers, hit a jumper to start the second half to give the Flyers a 42-26 lead, but injured his knee and was not seen again.
With the score tied, 64-64 with four seconds left in regulation, point guard Malachi Smith drove toward the basket and was mugged like a tourist in a dark alley. No foul was called and Smith lay flat on his back with a left ankle injury and was carried off the floor.
So the Flyers played the overtime without three starters — Elvis, Camara and Smith.
R.J. Blakney began the overtime with a short jumper to give UD a 66-64 lead, but Rudi Williams hit a turn around in the lane, Blakney missed a jumper and Jaxson Robinson buried a three from the corner to push BYU in front, 69-66 with 3:14 left.
Holmes, Mike Sharajamts and Mustapha Amzil all missed shots on the same possession and Gideon George drove for a layup.
It was BYU 71, Dauyton 66 with 2 1/2 minutes to play and the Flyers were well-done.
“They put it to is in the second half,” said UD coach Anthony Grant, stating the obvious but with understatement. “That’s been the story for us. We can’t sustain it for 40 minutes. We’ve had moments in the first half, the first 10 or 12 minutes, where we’re really good, then we’ll havr lulls whether it is scoring droughts on lapses on the defensive end.”
And Friday was exhibit A.
The Flyers burst to a 10-0 lead to open the game and at the 7 1/2-minute mark they were up, 32-9. After giving up a 17-0 run in the loss to NC State, the Flyers went on a 17-0 ramage of their own to build that 23-point lead.
Then the total collapse began. BYU outscored the Flyers, 15-8, to cut the lead to 16 at the half, 40-24.
Then the second half unfolded. After the Flyers played like NCAA contenders in the first half, they played like Atlantic 10 bottom-feeders in the second half.
“We had a decent effort in the first half, we didn’t have any drop-off there,” said Grant. “But the second half was a different game. . .whether it’s conditioning or stamina. As a team, we’re trying to learn ourselves with good competition every night.”
Before the Flyers embarked for The Bahamas, Grant said his team was searching for a rhythm and he hoped to find it against three quality teams. The Flyers are like an old man who can’t dance, searching for some rhythm.
“Our situation has been the same, our rhythm has not been there,” Grant added. “We knew coming in what the competition would be and that somebody would lose all three and that we had to play well.
“Now it’s how do we respond from here under the circumstances of those losses,” he said. “”
Of the injuries to Elvis and Smith, Grant said, “Right now, I don’t know the extent of the injuries, but we have a different look right now.”
Before league play begins December 28 against Duquesne, the Flyers have four home games, an away game and a game on a neutral court in Chicago against Wyoming.
The four home games are against lesser opponents, games the Flyers should win — Western Michigan, Southeastern Louisiana, UNC-Asheville and Alcorn State.
“The guys are disappointed with the results of these games, going 0-and-3,” said Grant. “More than anything right now, they hurt for their teammates right now. We’ll make sure we love on our guys to let them know how much we love them and how much they mean to us.
“Everybody is hurting right now (physically and emotionally), especially with all the work they’ve put in. We have to get back into finding our rhythm again. To go down like that stinks.”
At halftime, no BYU player had more than the five points scored by Rudi Williams. But Gideon George finished with 21 that included 3 of 5 from three. Jaxson Robinson scored 14 and made 5 of seven threes.
Dallin Hall came off the bench to score 12 and he made 2 of 4 treys. Fousseyni Traoe, averaging 11.4, only scored two but yanked down 10 rebounds.
Add ‘em all up and BYU was 13 for 27 from beyond the three-point line.
Holmes led the Flyers with 21, but the only other Flyer in doubles was Sharavjamts with 15.