By Mike Lehman, TTU Sports Information
DAYTON, Ohio – A late run fell short for the Tennessee Tech men's basketball team Wednesday evening, as the Dayton Flyers (4-4) defeated the visiting Golden Eagles (7-3) by a final score of 79-66 in front of a packed UD Arena and nearly 13,000 fans.
"We did some good things," head coach Steve Payne said. "It's a tough place to play and I don't think we played very well. At the same time, we had our chances. In the first half, offensively, we acted like we had never seen a zone, but it's hard to simulate their length and athleticism. In the second half, we settled in and scored well, but right now it's all about ball security and being willing to make the extra pass all the time. If we're not willing to do that, we're not going to be a very good team. If we are willing to make the extra pass, we'll be fine."
The Golden Eagles struggled to score in the first half, despite taking an early 8-4 lead into the first media timeout. The Dayton defense held Tech to just nine field goals on 28 attempts in the first half, including a 3-for-11 showing from downtown.
Despite the tough period of shooting, Tech trailed just 32-24 at the break.
The Flyers extended that lead to a game-high 17 points in the second half, using a block by Kostas Antetokounmpo (younger brother of Giannis Antetokounmpo of the Milwaukee Bucks) and dunk by Josh Cunningham to push its advantage at the 12:48 mark.
Tech quickly answered, using back-to-back triples from Kajon Mack and Curtis Phillips Jr. to cut the lead back to 11 and force a timeout by the Flyers. Dayton jumped back out to a 16-point lead with under 10 minutes to play, but the Golden Eagles once again had a run to make.
Layups by Mason Ramsey and Mack, sandwiching another 3-pointer by Phillips, cut the Dayton lead into single digits in just two minutes. Free throws by Mack and Phillips cut the deficit to just seven with as little as five minutes to go, but the Golden Eagle defense just couldn't stop the fast break offense of the Flyers.
Tech shot 54.2 percent from the field and 53.8 percent from downtown in the second half, leading to 42 points, but Dayton used the pulse and atmosphere from the crowd to shoot over 60 percent over the final 20 minutes.
For the game, Phillips led the Golden Eagles with 17 points and a 4-for-7 showing from 3-point range. Mack added 15 points, five rebounds and five assists while Courtney Alexander II scored 11 points, four rebounds and three steals. Aleksa Jugovic hit three triples for nine points while dishing out seven assists.
Five Dayton players scored in double figures with Darrell Davis leading the way with 19 points.
The Golden Eagles head north to Mount Pleasant, Mich. for a Saturday tilt against Central Michigan at 12:00 p.m. CT.
Photo by Thomas Corhern, TTU Sports Information