CHARLESTON, S.C. — Coming into Friday’s game at the Charleston Classic, Dayton and Boston College seemed to be evenly matched — both teams coming off 10-point losses the previous day.
Unfortunately for Boston College, the presence of raucous Dayton fans made the neutral site of TD Arena feel like a Flyers home game. That didn’t help the Eagles’ cause, although it didn’t hurt as badly as the Flyers’ hot shooting. Dayton (2-1) made 78 percent of its shots (18 for 23) in the second half for an 87-71 victory.
“It’s hard to win if a team is shooting the way Dayton did tonight,” said Boston College coach Steve Donahue.
Both teams came out hot after the tip and traded 3-pointers. Freshmen Joe Rahon and Olivier Hanlan and sophomore Lonnie Jackson came through in the first half for the Eagles (1-2), each netting an early 3-pointer.
For every Eagle three made, Dayton’s Dyshawn Pierre had an answer. The 6-foot-6-inch freshman scored 23 points, going 8 for 8 from the field, including 5 for 5 from 3-point land.
For the game’s first 15 minutes, the teams battled back and forth, trading hard-nosed, scrappy baskets. With 5:20 left in the half, Dayton forward Devin Oliver (17 points, eight rebounds) drove the lane for a lefthanded layup and gave the Flyers the lead for the first time since the game’s opening moments.
On the next possession, Pierre sank a deep 3-pointer from the right wing to put Dayton up 4, causing Donahue to call a timeout.
“We’re not a team that can fall behind and try to make a comeback by trapping,” Donahue said. “We will give up too many easy baskets.”
But that’s exactly what the Eagles did. By halftime, BC found itself down, 37-26, thanks to botched defensive rotations and miscommunications.
Eagles sophomore Ryan Anderson, who scored 25 points against Baylor on Thursday, was held to 4 points in the first half. Dayton coach Archie Miller had high praise for Anderson, calling him one of the best players in the country. As such, the Dayton game plan centered around limiting his production.
In an attempt to limit the Flyers’ dribble penetration, Donahue switched the Eagles from a man-to-man defense to a 2-3 zone late in the first half. But to Donahue’s dismay, early in the second half, Dayton guards Oliver and Kevin Dillard (14 points) were able to navigate past defenders and find open layups and jumpers for themselves and teammates.
Five minutes into the second half, Dayton had pushed its lead to 15, causing Donahue to call another regrouping timeout.
“Fatigue certainly played a role with some of our players, especially our big guys because they play a lot of minutes,” said Donahue.
With 13 minutes remaining, BC sophomore guard Patrick Heckmann (13 points) checked in and proceeded to spark the Eagles, converting three consecutive 3-pointers to narrow Dayton’s lead to 10 (56-46).
Dayton weathered the run, and by the seven-minute mark had pushed the lead back to a comfortable 15 points. With 3:14 left, BC captain Dennis Clifford fouled out with 8 points and six boards. From there the game was out of reach for the Eagles.
Although unhappy with the loss, Donahue said there is a lot to like.
“We are very young and in a bit of a growth mode,” said Donahue. “But I’m proud of our guys and the effort they showed diving for loose balls and not giving up.”
Another silver lining for the Eagles has been the play of Rahon (16 points, four assists).
“I’m very confident in Joe. He plays very hard, defends, and makes plays for us,’’ said Donahue. “Even though the ball didn’t go in for him as much against Baylor, I still thought he played very well for us [Thursday], too.”