AYTON, OHIO -- They call this city the birthplace of aviation. The University of Dayton's teams are even called the Flyers. And here, the University of Massachusetts Minutemen crashed to earth.
At the very least, Sunday's 69-67 loss to Dayton, put some Flyers in the UMass ointment. The loss to a 12-12 (5-9) team halted UMass' six-game winning streak and placed hopes of a sixth straight league title and sixth straight NCAA appearance in jeopardy. At 17-11 (10-4), the Minutemen have some major work to do with games coming up at St. Joseph's on Tuesday and at home on Saturday against Temple.
"If we want to do what we talked about doing," said UMass coach Bruiser Flint, "they're must wins."
A win against St. Joseph's (19-6, 11-3) would forge a tie for first place in the Atlantic 10 East. Rhode Island at 16-8, 10-4, could make it a three-way tie with a win over George Washington on Wednesday.
In any event, the road to a happy ending became vastly more difficult after a maddeningly tentative and mistake-filled second half against a feisty but less talented Dayton team. UMass squandered a nine-point second-half lead after repeatedly holding the door open for the Flyers. They finally charged through.
"We stopped playing the last 15 minutes of the game," said Flint. "Our decision-making down the stretch was absolutely awful."
Dayton, in contrast, finished the game with some heady play before a rousing home crowd of 11,893.
"The two keys were being aggressive and being smart," said Flyer coach Oliver Purnell.
The Flyers took their first lead since the middle of the first half when Ryan Perryman knifed through for a reverse layup and a free throw for a 58-56 advantage with 3:47 left. UMass tied it moments later on a floater by Charlton Clarke, but Dayton took the lead for good when Darnell Hoskins, gamely hobbling on a sore ankle, arched in a tough shot in the lane with 2:52 remaining.
All three UMass guards had the ball stolen or stripped during crunch time. That, coupled with the fifth foul on Lari Ketner, seemed to push the game out of reach. With 22.6 seconds remaining, Perryman hit one of two free throws for a seemingly insurmountable 66-61 lead.
But Carmelo Travieso, who was brilliant for the Minutemen in defeat, almost single-handedly pulled UMass back. First he hit a tough 3-pointer from the right side to cut the gap to 66-64.
Freshman Edwin Young sank two free throws to extend the margin to four with 10.4 seconds left, but Travieso again nailed a difficult trey, falling down from deep on the right wing with 3.5 seconds left to bring UMass within one at 68-67.
Perryman was fouled on the inbounds pass with 2.7 seconds left. He hit the second of two free throws, making the score 69-67.
UMass had no timeouts left. Tyrone Weeks inbounded the ball to Edgar Padilla just over midcourt on a play that was initially designed to go to Travieso. Padilla dribbled once and let fly from 35-40 feet on the left side. The would-be game-winner banged hard off the backboard to the left of the basket, and Dayton fans poured onto the court in celebration.
For UMass, the atmosphere was far more sullen. A game the Minutemen were banking on was now in the loss column. The season-long Achilles heel of playing to the level of competition had turned an inspiring late-season surge into a sense of desperation.
"In games where we think we can get by, we come out and play complacent and wait for things to happen," said Travieso. "You can't really wait for things to happen, especially on the road. It's just not that easy. We just didn't have it today. We didn't have the intensity."
"We went into the locker room (at halftime with a five-point lead) feeling we were going to win this game," said Tyrone Weeks. "Everybody was relaxed. When you're up going into halftime against a team that's not supposed to beat you, you're going to feel relaxed. That's what we felt. We came out in the second half with no emotion, and it cost us the game."
Weeks, who has been perhaps UMass' steadiest player all year, was not there this time. His 4-point, 4-rebound effort in a foul-shortened 17-minute stint, coupled with Ketner's substandard 10-point, 3-rebound outing, prevented the Minutemen from dominating inside. Only some strong bench play from Inus Norville (12 points, six rebounds) and Ajmal Basit (four points, 10 boards) allowed the Minutemen to compete under the basket.
Travieso's 22 points, all of them hard-won, led all scorers.
Dayton got 14 apiece from Perryman and Coby Turner. Freshman center Mark Ashman was impressive with 13 points, and Hoskins tossed in 12.
Irritated but determined, Flint got ready to fly to Philadelphia for a showdown against his alma mater.
"I think our guys came in here like they thought they were going to win," he said. "We talked about it from the time we got on the bus in Amherst until the time we got here. They think we're just going to step on the court and beat people. We're not good enough to do that. Especially this year."
AYTON, Ohio - It took one backward stumble to wipe out a month and a half of forward progress. The NCAA tournament berth the University of Massachusetts men's basketball team appeared to be homing in on doesn't seem so close anymore.
The Minutemen entered yesterday's Atlantic 10 contest against Dayton having won 11 of their last 12 games, and early on appeared en route to notching another hard-fought victory. But UMass blew a 9-point second half lead, lost, 69-67, and now is in jeopardy of having its dramatic midseason turnaround go to waste.
Perhaps this is best for the Minutemen, who seem to play best this season when the margin for error is lowest. Yesterday they continued a month-long trend of sluggish and uninspired play against below-average competition - despite coach Bruiser Flint's repeated warnings.
UMass (17-11, 10-4) led, 45-36, with 16:08 left and had all but taken the crowd out of one of the league's toughest places to play. But the Minutemen blew several opportunities to take a larger lead and Dayton (12-12, 5-9) capitalized, cutting the margin to 54-53 with 7:28 to go. Then, after botching five opportunities to tie or take the lead, Dayton went ahead, 57-56, on a 3-point play by Ryan Perryman (14 points) with 3:47 left.
``I think they just wanted the game more than us,'' said UMass guard Carmelo Travieso (a game-high 22 points). ``Probably one of our biggest problems this year is we're playing up to our competition. We know when we're playing against a tough team we have to play hard. In games like this, we think we might get by, and we play complacently and wait for things to happen. You can't wait for things to happen, especially on the road.''
UMass tied it at 58, but Dayton led by 5 twice over the last two minutes, the latter a 66-61 advantage with 22 seconds left. Travieso drained a trey, cutting the lead to 66-64. Then, after two free throws by Dayton guard Edwin Young, Travieso hit another trey with three seconds left, trimming the lead to 68-67.
Perryman sank one of two free throws with two seconds left, and on its final possession, UMass guard Edgar Padilla's desperation 35-foot shot bounced off the right side of the backboard as time expired, prompting the fans to storm the floor. Dayton improved to 11-3 at home.
``The crowd started getting into it, we cut the lead to 1, and coach said, `Let's do it, let's break it,''' said Young. ``A lot of teams look at our record and say, `This team won't be a problem,' but we're pretty good.''
That's what Flint warned his team before the game. ``We stopped playing the last 15 minutes,'' said Flint. ``Our decision-making down the stretch was absolutely awful. But give Dayton credit. They made plays when they needed to. We have to learn to put teams away and we had plenty of time to do that.''
UMass' six-game winning streak ended, and the team suffered its first conference road defeat in 17 games, dating to Feb. 23, 1995. The Minutemen also dropped a game behind Atlantic 10 East leader St. Joseph's, which hosts UMass tomorrow. The Hawks defeated UMass at Amherst in January. The Minutemen close out the regular season at home Saturday against Temple.
``This makes the next two games ones we must get,'' said Travieso. ``We just can't throw away a game like that."
t may have been that the Massachusetts men's basketball team was looking ahead to its meeting with Atlantic 10 East leader St. Joseph's tomorrow. It may have been the fact that on paper, the Dayton Flyers just didn't pose as strong a threat.
Whatever it was, the Minutemen didn't play to win at the University of Dayton Arena yesterday - and it showed. UMass dropped a 69-67 decision to the Flyers in a pivotal A-10 contest.
The Minutemen now stand at 10-4 in conference, a mark that puts them in second place behind St. Joseph's. Dayton, meanwhile has posted a 12-12 (5-9 A-10) record and has quietly become a contender for the No. 2 spot in the West behind frontrunner Xavier. The Flyers trailed UMass for most of the game, pulling to only their second lead in the late stages of the game. In the final crucial minutes of the game, Dayton made UMass play to its level, forcing the Minutemen to come up with key shot after key shot.
"You've got to give them credit," UMass coach James "Bruiser" Flint said of the Flyers. "They came back and did a great job of staying with it. They played really hard."
Case in point, with 11.2 seconds remaining in the game, the Flyers led by five and UMass had the ball. Minuteman point guard Edgar Padilla crossed the ball to Carmelo Travieso, who nearly had the ball taken away. However, the senior shooting guard came up big, knocking down an off- balance 3-point shot without a clear look and with a pair of defenders in his way.
With the UD lead cut to only two, the Minutemen looked to foul, and quickly sent Ryan Perryman to the line after the Flyers inbounded the ball. Perryman nailed both of his shots from the stripe to boost the Dayton margin to four.
Knowing the success Travieso was having from behind the arc, the Minutemen again gave the ball to No. 24. This time, with a clear look at the basket, Travieso knocked down another from downtown, cutting the margin to just one with 3.5 left on the clock. UMass again looked to foul, this time sending Edwin Young to the line. Young, who finished with nine points and two rebounds for the Flyers, missed his first shot before connecting his second.
Tyrone Weeks inbounded the ball for UMass' final shot with 2.7 seconds remaining. Padilla caught the ball just over half-court, but his off-balance 3-point attempt was hit off the backcourt and the Minutemen fell, snapping their six-game win streak.
Travieso shouldered most of UMass' scoring burden with 22, while Inus Norville posted a career-high with 12 points off the bench.
Material from 99.3 FM WHMP was used in this report.
MASSACHUSETTS (67) fg ft rb min m-a m-a o-t a pf tp Clarke 36 4-6 0-0 0-2 3 0 8 Weeks 17 1-3 2-2 2-4 0 4 4 Ketner 25 3-10 4-5 1-3 0 5 10 Padilla 38 2-6 0-0 0-1 7 2 5 Travieso 36 8-16 2-4 0-1 1 3 22 Smith 10 0-1 2-2 0-1 1 1 2 Basit 19 1-6 2-2 3-10 0 1 4 Norville 19 5-7 2-2 2-6 0 3 12 _______________________________________________ TOTALS 200 24-55 14-17 8-28 12 19 67 _______________________________________________ Percentages: FG-.436, FT-.824. 3-Point Goals: 5-13, .385 (Clarke 0-1, Padilla 1-4, Travieso 4-8). Team rebounds: 2. Blocked shots: 2 (Norville 2). Turnovers: 11 (Clarke 4, Travieso 3, Padilla 2, Basit, Ketner). Steals: 6 (Padilla 3, Travieso 2, Norville). DAYTON (69) fg ft rb min m-a m-a o-t a pf tp Perryman 34 3-6 8-14 5-11 0 3 14 Turner 35 7-12 0-0 2-5 2 2 14 Ashman 34 5-11 3-4 2-7 0 3 13 Hoskins 32 4-11 1-2 0-4 3 0 12 Young 37 2-7 5-6 0-2 6 3 9 Haughn 9 1-1 0-0 0-0 1 2 3 Horton 7 1-1 0-0 1-1 0 1 2 Postorino 2 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 Beyina 10 1-2 0-0 0-2 0 2 2 _______________________________________________ TOTALS 200 24-51 17-26 10-32 12 16 69 _______________________________________________ Percentages: FG-.471, FT-.654. 3-Point Goals: 4-11, .364 (Turner 0-2, Hoskins 3-4, Young 0-3, Haughn 1-1, Beyina 0-1). Team rebounds: 1. Blocked shots: 2 (Ashman 2). Turnovers: 12 (Perryman 7, Hoskins 2, Beyina, Turner, Young). Steals: 4 (Ashman, Hoskins, Turner, Young). __________________________________ Massachusetts 35 32 - 67 Dayton 30 39 - 69 __________________________________ Technical fouls: None. A: 11,893. Officials: Reggie Greenwood, John Moreau, Rich San Fillipo.