DaRon Holmes tallied 22 points and seven rebounds while shooting 9-14 from the field in Amherst on Wednesday. Holmes is the A10’s leading shot blocker and sent three UMass (5-11 A-10) shot attempts back to where they came from in a dominant performance. The Flyers (11-4 A-10) scored the first nine points and never looked back, leading from start to finish.
Photo Cred: Dayton Daily News
The A10’s number-one scoring defense certainly looked the part, as the Flyers held UMass to just 18 made field goals all night on 34.6% shooting. UMass relied on Freshman RJ Luis to carry the load, who finished with 21 points and nine rebounds. A strong suit of this Dayton team is the opponent’s three-point shooting, as they have held their opponents to 28% on the season. This trend continued Wednesday as UMass made just three of their 12 attempts. The Minutemen’s offensive struggles did not get any easier when they tried to work the paint. Frank Martin said after the game “Dayton’s size at the rim bothered our players.”
Photo: UMass Athletics
Head Coaches Frank Martin & Anthony Grant have been friends since their teenage years in Miami. This was the seventh time they faced off in Division I. Anthony Grant said after the game, “It’s not a game either of us looks forward to playing because one of us isn’t going to win the game.” Grant also had some kind words for Martin and the state of his program in an injury-ridden year one, “It will take a little time, but he will get there. Frank knows what he is doing.”
The win was Dayton’s fourth in a row as they appear to be heading in a great direction just before the A-10 tournament. The Flyers have been dealing with numerous injuries all season, including the losses of Malachi Smith and Kobe Elvis Both, have finally returned to the starting backcourt. Smith gave out eight assists to his teammates on Wednesday while turning the ball over just once. With Smith leading the offense at the point and Elvis back on the wing; the Flyers are a completely different team. Martin pitched postgame for his longtime friend Grant.
Photo Cred: Dayton Daily News
“They keep playing the way they are for anyone to insinuate they got to win the (A-10) tournament to make the NCAA tournament, it’s a joke.” Dayton now sits 19-9 and needs a strong finish to find themselves in the big dance.
Photo Cred: CBS Sports
Dayton led 19-12 before a Keon Thompson block turned into a TJ Weeks three-pointer which electrified the Minuteman crowd, but that was the loudest the Mullins Center got all night long. Dayton controlled the entire game, and UMass never got closer than the 10 points they trailed by at halftime. Four straight second-half points from Keon Thompson kept UMass in the game at 50-39, but Dayton responded with a 12-2 run to effectively put the game away.
A highlight in the second half came when Holmes made two huge blocks on back-to-back possessions. The Minutemen did not have an answer for him. Dayton will host George Mason on Saturday night, needing a win. UMass now has a week off before they visit Duquesne next Wednesday.