Last week, the Dayton Flyers made a surprise run in the Maui Invitational, defeating Gonzaga, outplaying Baylor before the Bears rallied late in the game to advance to the finals, and then concluding their trip in Hawaii with a win over Cal.
The Flyers were picked to finish seventh in the Atlantic 10, but the successful string of games propelled them into the top 25 this last week, one of two A-10 teams ranked along with UMass.
But Dayton got a reality check on Saturday, when No. 25 Flyers made the trip to Normal, Ill., and left with an 81-75 loss to Illinois State.
The Flyers trailed by seven points going into the break, but Dayton stormed back to take the lead 50-48, but five turnovers over the next seven minutes let the Redbirds take a 67-57 advantage.
In the game, Dayton committed a season-high 18 turnovers, something that wasn’t an issue out in Maui. The Flyers also left eight points at the line, shooting 12-of-20. In the first game back from Maui on Wednesday against Delaware State, Dayton missed 13 free throws, part of the reason why the Hornets were able to hang around in the first half.
Dayton has proven to be a better team than many thought entering the season. With a good recruiting class and impact transfers coupled some key returners, the Flyers have the tools to end up towards the top of the Atlantic 10 standings. The progress the Flyers made in Maui was slowed down a bit on Saturday, but Archie Miller will have a week to prepare his guys before the team’s next game on Dec. 14 against Central Michigan.
The Flyers still have several chances to make up for the loss to Illinois State with non-conference games against Iona, USC and Ole Miss in Oxford, remaining on their schedule.