As a junior here at Dayton, I had not yet had the ability to see a nationally-ranked opponent visit UD Arena. And goodness, it was a treat. For starters, former UD standout Anthony Grant came back to the arena as head coach of the Crimson Tide to a rousing ovation, but after that, any semblance of sentiment for Alabama was gone. Also, Dayton was trying to pick themselves up off of the mat after consecutive losses to Murray State and Buffalo by a combined 46 points.
The beginning of the game, in all honesty, looked like it was going to be very difficult for the Flyers. Within three minutes, JaMychal Green had all six of Bama's points, and there really appeared to be no answer to his athleticism and scoring touch around the rim. But soon, he did probably the worst thing an opponent could do inside the Dayton Decibel Dungeon. He gave the crowd a reason to hate him. When a ball got loose at the top of the key, Green knocked down Matt Kavanaugh in a move that word have made Nick Saban proud. An intentional foul was called, giving UD free throws and the chance to take the lead for good once Green was taken out for the remainder of the half.
UD controlled the tempo for the remainder of the half, topped off by the play of the year so far, when Kavanaugh, our lanky, rarely-dribbling big man, stole the ball at half court, dribbled until just before the free throw line and alley-ooped to Josh Benson for a thunderous slam that fired up the crowd even more. But the middle of the second half was another story. Alabama had adjusted to a zone look, as well as coming out in a full court press, which the Flyers did not react well to. If the Flyers did not turn the ball over, they instead put up a rushed, poor-quality shot. And just like that, a halftime lead of 11, which at one point was 17, was down to four. Just like that, one of the most raucous crowds you will see sat in stunned silence. By this point, Archie Miller had seen enough and called a timeout. On UD's next possession, his message became clear.
UD successfully inbounded the ball and broke the press and slowed down their pace. The shot clock was under five seconds when the ball was passed to Kevin Dillard, who was in NBA three-point range. With ice in his veins, Dillard drained a semi-contested three that gave the crowd life again. On the next possession, again with the shot clock in the single digits, Dillard was found wide-open again in the right corner and drained another, making it 63-53, and putting the game, for all intents and purposes, out of reach. UD would go on to win 74-62.
Now, a new ability we as members of Red Scare, Dayton's student section have been given this year, is the ability to hold up signs and wave flags. The Red Scare president has about 10 flags he brings to each game and distributes to students. I actually arrived to this game not intending to hold any such flag, but once I got to my seat, the people in front of me who had it had already tired of it, and asked me if I would take it off their hands. I said yes, and saw it was the "Don't Give Up the Ship" flag. I saw this flag at the UNC-Wilmington game that I had attended earlier this year, and I honestly wondered why we had it in the first place, it didn't seem to make sense. But after the two losses, it made a little more sense. Maybe it doesn't always look good, but it isn't over until it is truly over. Don't give up the ship, Flyer Faithful. Don't give up the ship.
at DAYTON 74, ALABAMA 62 12/07/2011
ALABAMA 7-2 (0-0) -- T. Mitchell 7-14 2-2 18; T. Releford 6-10 1-1 13; L. Randolph 2-6 1-1 5; J. Green 6-9 0-4 12; T. Lacey 3-7 0-0 8; N. Jacobs 3-4 0-0 6; J. Hankerson 0-1 0-0 0; R. Cooper 0-3 0-0 0; B. Eblen 0-0 0-0 0; C. Engstrom 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 27-54 4-8 62. DAYTON 6-3 (0-0) -- K. Dillard 4-6 4-5 14; C. Johnson 8-9 1-2 20; J. Benson 5-6 1-2 11; P. Williams 3-7 0-0 8; J. Parker 7-12 0-0 17; M. Kavanaugh 1-2 2-2 4; L. Fabrizius 0-4 0-0 0; D. Oliver 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 28-46 8-11 74.
Three-point goals: ALA 4-16 (T. Mitchell 2-4; C. Hankerson Jr. 0-1; T. Releford 0-1; R. Cooper 0-3; T. Lacey 2-6; L. Randolph 0-1), UD 10-19 (P. Williams 2-4; J. Parker 3-5; C. Johnson 3-4; L. Fabrizius 0-2; K. Dillard 2-4); Rebounds: ALA 20 (T. Mitchell 4), UD 26 (K. Dillard 8); Assists: ALA 18 (T. Lacey 4), UD 18 (K. Dillard 6); Total Fouls -- ALA 15, UD 14; Fouled Out: ALA-None; UD-None.