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UD takes tough loss in A-10 tournament, look forward to Selection Sunday

The University of Dayton men’s basketball team took a tough loss in the Atlantic 10 tournament March 10, falling 73-67 to Davidson. (WKEF/WRGT)

PITTSBURGH, Pa. (WKEF/WRGT) – Heartbreak spread across the Miami Valley after the top seeded Flyers were stunned at the gate by Davidson in the Atlantic 10 tournament.

However, the game against Davidson was very similar to one the Flyers played against the Wildcats just two weeks ago. A slow start with UD down by more than 10 was followed by a furious comeback, but the team just couldn’t pull it out this time around.

For the fifth time in the last 8 games, the Flyers were down by double digits, falling as far as 16 points behind in the first half. The second half saw UD go on a 10-2 run that was capped by a four-point play by Charles Cooke, bringing the team within 4.

Just minutes later, Darrell Davis pulls the team within a single point of Davidson by knocking down a three, and the two teams go back and forth until about three minutes left in the game. That was when UD drew even with Davidson thanks to Scoochie Smith’s trifecta.

The score dropped back to leave the Flyers down 2 again, but Charles Cooke went on a run to put 5 straight up on the board for his team, including one from long distance that scored UD its first lead since it was 2-0.

But the team just couldn’t keep up with Jack Gibbs’ exceptional performance March 10, as he went over 2,000 points for his career and hit two magical step-back threes to put Davidson back in front, then continue adding to their lead.

The Flyers were stunned in the 73-67 loss.

“Right now it’s just unbelievable,” Flyers sophomore Xeyrius Williams said. “Really can’t believe we lost. Just got to wait ‘til Sunday to see where we’re at. Just come with an open mind and be ready to work every day up until next weekend.”

“You know, the losing stings a lot more,” head coach Archie Miller said. “We didn’t lose for about a month and a half. You can’t forget all the good things that happened to the group as well. It’s unfortunate we didn’t play our best today.”

Miller said the team actually hasn’t been playing it’s best for the last six games. According to the head coach, winning some of those games masked the issues the team has had, but especially after beating VCU, the team hasn’t looked the same over the last two games.

“I think we breathed a sigh of relief when we won the A-10 championship outright,” Williams said. “That’s when it’s like we should have never done that. We should’ve stayed fired up, and that’s what we have to do. We have to stay fired up.”

“The air sort of went out of that edge and desperation of having to win by one point every game,” Miller said. “We’re going to have to find a way to get that. Hopefully, the NCAA tournament will provide that one and done feel where you have to play as hard as you possibly can.”

As for the season overall, the Flyers hadn’t lost 3 straight games since January 2014, which is the year they eventually went on to make a magical run to the Elite 8. Unfortunately for UD, this streak ended their season.

Miller said he doesn’t doubt his team can get their focus back together in time for the tournament, and that they’ll continue to excel while playing the underdog role.

“We’re only as good as the fear in our team,” Miller said. “Our team’s got to fear. They have to be fearful of losing, they have to be fearful of backs against the wall, chips on their shoulder. That’s how we played for two and a half months. I think since we won the conference regular season, the air sort of went out of that edge and desperation of having to win by one point."

“That’s what we have to do,” Williams said. “We have to stay fired up and hopefully we get it.”

“We should bounce back,” UD senior Charles Cooke said. “We should bounce back. Our season isn’t over.”

The season will push on into the tournament, but the Flyers have to push one of the bigger snubs in recent memory behind them. The senior class has one last chance to get win number 103 and write the final chapter of its legacy.

According to their resume and bracketologists, UD shouldn’t have any worries on Selection Sunday, but the loss isn’t exactly making the Flyers breathe any easier.

“I’m always anxious,” Miller said. “I’m always high anxiety. I think the committee has shown sometimes they don’t respect the league or leagues as much as maybe they should, but I think our individual resume as it stacks up to the field is good enough to be in it. I feel like we’ll have our name called.”

“We’re just going to make sure we’re ready wherever the NCAA places us next week, Smith said. “It ain’t going to end up like this.”

“How do I want to be remembered?” Williams said. “That’s kind of the thing that has to drive everybody, just everybody in general, even as a younger guy. How do you want to be remembered because it all comes down from seniors to freshmen.”

If the team needs any more inspiration for how quickly a team can turn it around in the tournament, they can take a look at their opponent from last year. Syracuse lost 5 of the final 6 games they placed before heading into the NCAA, ultimately upsetting the Flyers and making their way to the Final Four.

The question heading into the tournament is where UD will land. After the win against VCU, the Flyers were projected up to a 7 seed, which dropped to an 8, but now could find their way into a double digit seed.

Stay tuned to FOX 45 and ABC 22 as we will hear from the Flyers on Sunday after their learn their fate heading into the tournament.

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