By Paul Gotham
ST. BONAVENTURE, N.Y. – Dyshawn Pierre stood on the sideline ready to give the inbound pass. Three ticks remained on the shot clock, 18.4 on the game clock. The University of Dayton Flyers held a one-point lead.
The picture gave an appropriate representation of UD’s struggles for much of the Atlantic 10 conference matchup.
Another game on the road in the Atlantic 10 when very little comes easy.
The game started with Dayton’s best player, Devin Oliver, whistled for his second foul less than three minutes into the game. When Oliver finally returned to the floor, he picked up his third infraction within 30 seconds. UD’s deft shooting abandoned them. They entered the game leading the A-10 hitting 47 percent from the floor. In the first half, they went 11 of 30.
So when Pierre lined up for what should have been a simple task, it was only fitting the sophomore would have to contend with the enthusiastic St. Bonaventure student section. A security guard was needed to create separation from the Bona zealots.
Creature comfort created, Pierre inbounded the ball to a curling Jordan Sibert whose shot found iron. Oliver corralled the rebound, was fouled, and the Flyers went on to win a late free-throw shooting contest.
The pair combined for eight as UD outscored Bona 13-5 in the final 4:34.
“We battled through a lot of adversity,” UD Head Coach Archie Miller stated. “At the end of the day we had two seniors really step up in the second half in Oliver and Sanford.”
Oliver scored all 15 of his points in the second half. Sanford accounted for six after the break.
“Those two guys really stood out to me as making the plays when needed them to make ‘em,” Miller added. “Overall, it’s a great win. When you’re on the road in this league, everyone can attest it’s very difficult.”
The win was the third straight for a Dayton club which dropped four straight and five of six in January.
“I credit our kids and staff on being able to weather a little bit of a slick spot through the early part of January,” Miller noted.
Trailing by five, Sibert converted one of two from the free throw line. Pierre hit a runner in the lane, and Oliver used an upfake and dribble to knot the score at 64.
Matt Kavanaugh gave UD its first lead of the second stanza when he grabbed an offensive rebound and finished at the rim. Sanford pushed the lead to four with a pull-up jumper in the lane.
“In the second half, from an offensive perspective, we were very good,” Miller commented.
Charlon Kloof responded with a catch-and-shoot three from the left corner, but the Bonnies could not regain the lead. The loss was another in a string of heart-breaking setbacks for Bona. Their last three losses have come by a combined seven points.
Oliver converted four free throws in the game’s final seconds to seal the victory.
“In the Atlantic 10 it always comes down to one or two possessions,” St. Bonaventure Head Coach Mark Schmidt said. “Not that that last possession won the game; it could have been the first possession of the first half. We can’t lose hope. We got to continue to work.”
SBU led throughout much of the first half and opened its largest lead with 8:32 remaining before the break.
Kloof used a spin dribble in the lane to create space and dished to Youssou Ndoye for a bucket. On the next trip, Kloof used a ball screen at the top of the lane for a layup. Ndoye converted a pair of free throws before Dion Wright went off the window for two. Matthew Wright hit two at the line, and Marquise Simmons connected on three of four at the stripe for a 24-17 Brown and White lead.
UD battled back and outscored the Bonnies 13-6 to knot the score at 30 going into the break.
Sanford used a stutter step and pulled up just above the free throw line for two. Scoochie Smith corralled a long rebound and led Sibert into the open floor for a flush. Khari Price drilled a 3-pointer late in the shot clock. Sanford used a ball screen at the top for a layup and nailed a catch-and-shoot three for a brief 30-28 Dayton edge.
Dion Wright tied the score at 30 with a spin dribble along the baseline for two.
Ndoye finished the first half 3 of 3 from the floor and 4 of 4 from the free throw line for 10 points. The Bona center finished with 17 and a game-high seven boards.
Kloof also netted 17. Matthew Wright chipped in 12.
Dayton outrebounded Bona 39-28, and the Flyers bench, led by Sanford, got the better of their counterparts, 28-13.
Dayton returns home to host Rhode Island, Wednesday night. A 7 pm tip off is scheduled.
Bona heads to Fordham for a 9 pm tip time on Wednesday.