No. 16 Alabama surprised in 74-62 loss at Dayton
DAYTON, Ohio—Alabama coach Anthony Grant knew what to expect when he brought his young, 16th-ranked Crimson Tide north to play at his alma mater Wednesday night.
Having played for the Flyers from 1983-8, he knew the crowd would be raucous, and he knew Dayton would play hard. Did his players think the same thing?
"Probably not," Grant said.
It may have cost them. Alabama lost its second straight, falling to the Flyers 74-62 on Wednesday night.
"The crowd tonight was really, really passionate and enthusiastic," Grant said. "I realize why we won so many games here when I played."
The Tide (7-2) struggled to find momentum for 30 minutes. Dayton led 38-27 at halftime, by 17 early in the second half and 56-40 with 11:52 to play. Then the Tide got busy on defense and pressed and trapped their way into a 13-1 run. JaMychal Green's steal at half court as he came up to trap Dayton's Devin Oliver led to a layup for Trevor Releford that cut Dayton's lead to 57-53 with 7:43 to play.
Then Alabama was hit with more of the unexpected. Dayton point Kevin Dillard made consecutive 3-pointers 54 seconds apart and the Flyers were on their way to a 17-9 closing run.
"I think we had them," Alabama's Trevor Releford said. "We had the same five guys out there and they were gassed, but they knocked down some shots."
Dillard, who scored 14 points, thought his 3-pointers turned the tables on the Tide.
"When they went on their run and we were only up by four, the pressure was kind of on us," Dillard said. "That was kind of like a pressure release because then the ball's in their court."
Grant was concerned about how his team would handle its first true road trip of the season after a 57-55 loss at home to unranked Georgetown.
"They came out with great passion," Grant said of Dayton. "When we were down 14-16 our pride and passion kicked in. It should have been that way for 40 minutes."
Alabama started strong with Green hitting three straight jump shots for a 6-4 lead. Then he was called for his second foul and went to the bench for the final 15:46 of the half. The foul was ruled intentional when Green shoved Dayton big man Matt Kavanaugh as they went after a loose ball near midcourt. Kavanaugh made both free throws for an 8-6 lead that sparked a 21-9 run.
"I kind of shoved him off, but I don't think it was intentional," Green said. "I shouldn't have put myself in that position."
Green finished with 12 points on 6-of-9 shooting. Tony Mitchell led the Tide with 18 and Releford scored 13.
Other than the second-half run when Alabama was turning steals into points, the Tide had no answer for Dayton's offense. The Flyers shot 60.9 percent (28-of-46) from the floor and 10-of-19 from 3-point range to score the most points Alabama has allowed this season. Tide opponents were shooting just 33.3 percent from the field entering the game.
Josh Parker came off the Dayton bench to make 3-of-5 3-pointers and score 17 points. Dillard added 14 and Josh Benson 11.
Dayton has now won nine of its last 10 games against major-conference opponents, including victories this season over Wake Forest and Minnesota. What was surprising about Dayton's performance was that the Flyers were coming off losses to Buffalo and Murray State.
"This is the Dayton team," Dillard said. "The one from the last two games is when we're not ready and focused. We've got to attack every day with the same mentality."