Scoochie Smith

St. Bonaventure wins at No. 15 Dayton, adding big win to profile

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On the heels of their surprising loss at La Salle, St. Bonaventure entered Saturday’s game at No. 15 Dayton in dire need of a quality win for its NCAA tournament résumé. Despite dealing with first-half foul trouble that saw two starters in Marcus Posley and Denzel Gregg called for three fouls apiece the Bonnies found a way to get the job done, winning 79-72 at UD Arena.

The keys for Mark Schmidt’s team: managing to keep Dayton from getting out in transition on a regular basis, and a standout performance from sophomore guard Jaylen Adams.

Dayton certainly had its moments with regards to getting out in the open floor, as one would expect of a team featuring Scoochie Smith , Dyshawn Pierre and Charles Cooke III as players who can get the ball and attack off the bounce. But the Bonnies did a much better job of limiting the Flyers’ quality looks than they did in the first meeting back in January, a game Dayton led by as much as 31 before hanging on for the 85-79 victory.

On that day Dayton shot 57.1 percent from the field and 9-for-15 from three. In the rematch, St. Bonaventure limited the Flyers to 41.1 percent from the field and 5-for-21 from beyond the arc. The Bonnies were much improved defensively, which was exactly what they needed in order to be in position to pick up the win.

What also helped was the fact that Adams was on his game offensively, especially with Posley (12 points on 3-for-12 shooting) having to navigate foul trouble. Adams scored 31 points on the day, and his three-pointer with 20 seconds remaining was the game’s biggest shot. The three broke a 72-all tie, and with Dayton unable to convert on the other end the Bonnies were able to close the game out at the foul line.

Add in an important 15-point, eight-rebound effort from Dion Wright and a 10-for-20 day from three, and St. Bonaventure leaves Dayton with a win that not only enhances their NCAA tournament profile but also keeps them alive in the Atlantic 10 race.

Dayton’s one of the teams in the Atlantic 10 that’s in good shape when it comes to getting into the NCAA tournament, with Saint Joseph’s and VCU also well-positioned to hear their name called Selection Sunday. But these last two games serve as a reminder of just how important forward Kendall Pollard is to their team. Pollard’s missed the last three games with a knee injury, as Dayton is looking to get him back to full strength for March.

Until he returns players such as Steve McElvene and Sam Miller will have to do their best to fill the void, but neither (at this time) is the player that Pollard is within the Dayton system.

Even without Pollard, beating a Dayton team that had won its last 20 Atlantic 10 home games is no easy task. St. Bonaventure managed to do just that, keeping themselves in the running for an at-large bid as a result.

PREGAME SHOOTAROUND: No. 20 Duke visits No. 5 North Carolina

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GAME OF THE NIGHT: No. 20 Duke at No. 5 North Carolina, 9:00 p.m.

This choice is a simple one, with one of the best rivalries in all of sports taking place. Mike Krzyzewski’s Blue Devils have won four straight games, with their defensive improvements being a key reason why (our Rob Dauster has more on that here). Grayson Allen and Brandon Ingram have led the way offensively for Duke, but getting stops will be key for them not just tonight but in March as well. How well Duke fares on the defensive glass against the bigger Tar Heels will be a key, but UNC has its own questions to address.

The biggest: how engaged will Justin Jackson and Brice Johnson be? Johnson made his way into the ACC POY conversation and Jackson saved the Heels at Boston College, but both have to bring consistent effort for Roy Williams’ team to reach its full potential. North Carolina played well in its win over Pittsburgh Sunday, but can they build on that momentum?

THIS ONE’S GOOD TOO: No. 15 Dayton at Saint Joseph’s, 6:00 p.m.

There are two big games in Philadelphia tonight (more on the other one below), and this one will have a major impact not only on the Atlantic 10 race but on NCAA tournament profiles as well. Archie Miller’s Flyers are well positioned to land a good seed next month, and a win here would keep Dayton (who’s won nine straight) alone atop the A-10 standings. Dyshawn Pierre’s return has been key, but the contributions of Charles Cooke III and Scoochie Smith should not be overlooked either. Saint Joseph’s will counter with the incredibly versatile DeAndre Bembry and the A-10’s most improved player in forward Isaiah Miles, who’s been a key option in the front court for Phil Martelli’s Hawks.

FIVE THINGS TO WATCH FOR

1. No. 1 Villanova will step outside of Big East play as they visit Big 5 rival Temple (7:00 p.m.) in a critical game for the home team. Fran Dunphy’s Owls sit atop the American, and a win here would (barring a collapse) in all likelihood sew up an NCAA tournament bid. Villanova, on the other hand, is once again in the mix for a one-seed and can wrap up the outright Big 5 title with a win.

2. Unless Villanova falters down the stretch, No. 8 Xavier is the only team capable of chasing down the Wildcats in the Big East standings. The Musketeers, two games back, will need to avoid any losses if they’re to accomplish that beginning with their game against No. 23 Providence tonight (7:00 p.m.). The Friars lean upon the tandem of Kris Dunn and Ben Bentil, but they’ll need more against the deeper Musketeers.

3. One team that may not be receiving as much “bubble” chatter as they deserve is Alabama, which has won four straight including wins over Texas A&M and Florida. The Crimson Tide visit LSU tonight (9:00 p.m.), with both teams in a position where another quality win would help their cause. LSU won the first meeting by two points in Tuscaloosa, with Ben Simmons going for 23 points, eight rebounds and five assists.

4. After getting swept last weekend USC looks to get back on the right track with a win over Colorado (11:00 p.m.) in Los Angeles. Andy Enfield’s Trojans have yet to lose at home this season, and their offensive balance (six players averaging double figures) is one reason why. Colorado, which is also well positioned to reach the NCAA tournament, did not have Josh Scott (ankle) last week and his status for tonight has yet to be determined. That’s a key for the Buffs, given how good USC’s front court with the likes of Nikola Jovanovic, Bennie Boatwright and Chimezie Metu has been this year.

5. Texas Tech, which beat two ranked teams in Iowa State and Baylor last week, has another opportunity to get a marquee win as they host No. 3 Oklahoma. Keenan Evans is averaging more than 17 points per game over the last three for Tubby Smith’s Red Raiders, who can also call upon Devauntagh Williams and Toddrick Gotcher on the perimeter. Buddy Hield and company are looking to rebound from their loss to No. 2 Kansas, but that won’t be easy to do in Lubbock.

THE REST OF THE TOP 25

  • No. 4 Iowa at Penn State, 6:30 p.m.
  • Virginia Tech at No. 11 Miami, 9:00 p.m.
  • Arizona State at No. 12 Arizona, 9:00 p.m.
  • Syracuse at No. 18 Louisville, 7:00 p.m.
  • Nebraska at No. 22 Indiana, 8:30 p.m.

OTHER NOTABLE GAMES

  • Stony Brook at Albany, 7:00 p.m.
  • George Washington at Duquesne, 7:00 p.m.
  • Seton Hall at Georgetown, 9:00 p.m.
  • Boise State at New Mexico, 10:00 p.m.

No. 19 Dayton rallies late for 76-74 win over Duquesne

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DAYTON, Ohio (AP) Scoochie Smith hit a 3-pointer that put No. 19 Dayton ahead to stay as the Flyers overcame a late 12-point deficit and beat Duquesne 76-74 on Tuesday night.

The Flyers (20-3, 10-1 Atlantic 10) got their eighth straight win by going on a closing 19-5 run. Smith’s 3-pointer from the top of the arc put Dayton ahead 73-70 with 46 seconds left, and the Dukes (15-9, 5-6) never pulled even again. Smith hit a free throw with 2.7 seconds left.

Charles Cooke led Dayton with 22 points and Smith added 14.

Micah Mason had 27 points for Duquesne. Derrick Colter had 19 of his 21 in the second half.

Dayton took the court with its highest regular-season ranking since Nov. 19, 2009. The Flyers hadn’t been ranked so highly this late in the regular season since Feb. 15, 1968.

They needed their home-court advantage to pull it out. They have won 35 of their last 36 at home, and have won 20 straight A-10 games at Dayton Arena.

Mason missed the Dukes’ 66-58 loss to the Flyers on Jan. 2 with an ankle injury. He made the difference early, hitting his first three shots from beyond the arc and his first five overall. He had 13 points as the Dukes pulled ahead 28-16, making 12 of their first 17 shots overall against the A-10’s stingiest defense.

Sam Miller had two 3s and a follow-up basket as Dayton went on an 11-0 run. The Dukes went more than 4 minutes without a basket, helping Dayton pull into a 35-35 tie at halftime.

The Flyers opened the second half with a 10-2 run featuring a layup, a free throw and a 3-pointer by Kyle Davis.

Colter, the Dukes’ leading scorer at 18.3 points per game, made only one of his six shots in the first half. He rallied the Dukes after Dayton’s opening run in the second half, making two 3s and a three-point play as the Dukes pulled ahead 56-53 midway through the half.

Two 3-pointers by Mason pushed the lead to 69-57 with 5:41 to go, but the Dukes couldn’t hold on.

TECHNICAL ISSUE

Duquesne coach Jim Ferry got a technical foul while yelling at referee Tony Chiazza after one of the Dukes was called for a foul with 3:48 left in the first half.

TIP-INS

Duquesne: The Dukes are 47-118 all-time against ranked teams. They beat No. 10 Saint Louis 71-64 on Feb. 27, 2014, and lost to No. 17 VCU 70-64 on Jan. 17, 2015, in their last two.

Dayton: Dyshawn Pierre had only six points, ending his streak of nine consecutive games in double figures. Pierre missed the first part of the season under a university suspension, but has played in the last 12 games, starting 10.

UP NEXT

Duquesne: Hosts Massachusetts on Sunday.

Dayton: Plays at Rhode Island on Friday.

Follow Joe Kay on Twitter: http://twitter.com/apjoekay

PREGAME SHOOTAROUND: Showdowns in the Atlantic 10, MAAC

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GAME OF THE NIGHT: George Washington at Dayton, 7:00 p.m.

With both St. Bonaventure and VCU atop the Atlantic 10 standings with 4-0 league records, this is a big matchup for contenders George Washington and Dayton as both enter this game 3-1. The Flyers rebounded from a disappointing effort in their loss at La Salle with a win over Davidson earlier this week, with Scoochie Smith leading a balanced offensive attack with 18 points and four assists.

The key for Dayton is turnovers, more specifically the unforced errors that occur a little too often for Archie Miller’s liking. George Washington has one of the top defenders in the country in senior Patricio Garino, and their 1-3-1 zone can be a tough task for opponents to attack. It should be noted that GW guard Joe McDonald will miss his second straight game due to an eye injury.

THIS ONE’S GOOD TOO: Monmouth at Iona, 9:00 p.m.

The preseason favorite to win the MAAC hosts the team that boasts the conference’s best overall résumé in New Rochelle. Iona’s dealt with injuries (Shadrac Casimir’s done for the season, A.J. English just returned) and the departure of Kelvin Amayo, but others have stepped forward and as a result Tim Cluess’ team sits atop the MAAC standings. One game behind them in the loss column are the Hawks, who have won eight of their last nine games. The two frontrunners for MAAC Player of the Year will be on the same court with English and Monmouth’s Justin Robinson being those players. Both teams can put points on the board, but which one can string together the stops needed to get the win?

OTHER GAMES OF NOTE

  • Akron visits Toledo (7:00 p.m.) in a MAC crossover game, with the Zips among three teams tied atop the MAC East at 2-1 and the Rockets 1-2 in the MAC West. Tod Kowalczyk’s team needs to hold serve, as they’re already two games behind a Northern Illinois (3-0 MAC West) team they lost to Tuesday night.
  • Illinois State hosts Evansville (9:00 p.m.) in a matchup of teams hoping to make a run at Wichita State in the Missouri Valley. The talented tandem of D.J. Balentine and Egidijus Mockevicius lead the way for the Purple Aces, but the Redbirds have an all-MVC candidate of their own in Devaughn Akoon-Purcell.

FRIDAY’S REMAINING SCHEDULE

  • Albany at Maine, 12:00 p.m.
  • Siena at Quinnipiac, 7:00 p.m.
  • Niagara at Fairfield, 7:00 p.m.
  • Canisius at Manhattan, 7:00 p.m.