Photo Credit – Erik Schelkun
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Dayton Flyers: 68 VCU Rams: 67 OT
Going into Saturday, the Flyers were in a three way tie with St. Joe’s and Saint Bonaventure for second place in the Atlantic 10. VCU was sitting at the top by themselves. For Dayton to clinch the number one seed in the A10 tournament and an A10 regular season championship, they would have to beat VCU and get a little bit of help. The key game that needed to go the Flyers way was Duquesne at St. Joe’s. Duquesne, who is a middle of the pack A10 team, seemingly had no chance to beat St. Joe’s on their senior day. The Dukes of Duquesne were able to pull off the upset at St. Joe’s and all the Flyers had to do was beat VCU. The scene was set and the opportunity was there for the Dayton Flyers to win their first A10 regular season championship since the 03-04 season. In front of a sold out crowd in the Dayton Decibel Dungeon, the Flyers rose to the occasion and were able to squeak out a victory in overtime against VCU. Senior forward’s Dyshawn Pierre and Bobby Wehrli were honored before the game as it was senior night in Dayton.
VCU came ready to play and I think Dayton had some nerves early. VCU took an early 9-0 lead as they hit three of their first 4 shots in the first two minutes of the game. At the 16:45 mark, junior forward Kendall Pollard got the Flyers on the board. Dayton would keep chipping into the lead until the 7:49 mark when junior guard Scoochie Smith hit a 3 to tie the game at 19. The rest of the first half was back and forth and the Rams would take a 28-26 lead in to the half. For the first 18 minutes of the second half, both teams would trade baskets as neither team could get any kind of lead. With 1:16 left to go, sophomore forward Justin Tillman would grab an offensive rebound for VCU. He was fouled by Dayton forward Dyshawn Pierre. Pierre would foul out on this play and the Flyers would go down 54-51. With 48 seconds left, Flyer big man Steve McElvene missed a bunny and fouled VCU junior forward Mo Alie-Cox. Alie-Cox split the pair of free throws putting the Rams up 55-51. Junior forward Kendall Pollard was then fouled on the very next possession and he would make both free throws for the Flyers, cutting the lead to 55-53. After VCU junior guard Doug Brooks missed two free throws on the ensuing possession, Scoochie Smith drove the lane and made a lay up tying the game at 55 with 11 seconds to go. VCU would miss two shots and the game would go to overtime.
With 3:22 left in overtime and the Flyers down 1, Kendall Pollard would foul Justin Tillman. This would be Pollard’s 5th and final foul of the game. With two of their best players now disqualified from the game, the Flyers would play the gutsiest 3:22 of the season. With 1:43 to go, VCU senior guard Melvin Johnson hit a jumper to put VCU up 66-62. Scoochie Smith would answer on the other end with 2 free throws to make it 66-64. Junior guard Charles Cooke would tie the game at 66 with 2 free throws 30 seconds later. With 27 seconds left, junior guard JeQuan Lewis would split a pair of free throws to put the Rams up 67-66 with 27 seconds to go. Junior guard Kyle Davis would answer the bell and make an acrobatic layup with 16 seconds to go to put the Flyers up 68-67. With 8 seconds left, VCU turned the ball over. On the ensuing inbound play, Kyle Davis made an errant pass that was stolen by VCU. Davis was able to steal the ball back and was fouled. He would head to the line with 6 seconds left but missed both free throws. With one second left, Melvin Johnson had an opportunity to win the game for the Rams. He got the ball on the three point line and threw up a contested fade-away three. He missed. FLYERS WIN!
Flyers Win (A-10 CHAMPS!!!)
Worth Knowing: Dayton finished regular season unbeaten when at full-strength. @JonRothstein @SethDavisHoops @ESPNDanaOneil @ESPNAndyKatz
Young net cutters pic.twitter.com/LfCLhjv36X
What A Time To Be Alivepic.twitter.com/0cvgjsZMoT
A-10 Co-Regular Season Champions! pic.twitter.com/qcVB6xtQWl
DAYTON WINS AND WILL BE THE NUMBER 1 SEED IN THE A10 TOURNEY #LOWD https://vine.co/v/iXv6BupDI35
VCU shot 34.3% (24-70) from the field, 25% (5-20) from the three point line and 51.9% (14-27) from the charity stripe. The Rams pulled down 52 rebounds and had 10 assists to 15 turnovers. They had 7 blocks and 3 steals. Leading the way for the Rams was senior guard Korey Billbury who had 16 points and 7 rebounds in 44 minutes. Melvin Johnson also chipped in 16 points. Mo Alie-Cox had 12 points, 7 rebounds and 4 blocks in 38 minutes. Justin Tillman came off the bench and provided a spark for the Rams. He had 12 points and 21 rebounds, 7 of which were offensive.
Dayton shot 35% (21-60) from the field, 29.4% (5-17) from the three point line and 63.6% (21-33) from the free throw line. The Flyers had 48 rebounds and 15 assists to 12 turnovers. They also had 4 blocks and 9 steals. The Flyers were led by Scoochie Smith who had a career high 29 points, 8 rebounds and 5 assists in 42 minutes. Charles Cooke had 13 points and 4 assists in 41 minutes. Kendall Pollard chipped in 12 points in 30 minutes.
VCU (22-9) (14-4 A10) will head to the A10 tournament in Brooklyn, New York with the number 2 seed. They will face the winner of Rhode Island and UMASS on Friday, March 11th at 6:30PM.
Dayton (24-6) (14-4 A10) will head to the A10 tournament in Brooklyn, New York with the number 1 seed. They will face the winner of Fordham and Richmond on Friday, March 11th at 12PM.
Alex Handorf ’17