The Flyers atone for that ugly loss at LaSalle with a thriller…a last-second road win over Richmond, courtesy of an R.J. Blakney dunk at the buzzer to win the game in regulation.
RICHMOND, Va. — They scheduled a basketball game in Robins Center Tuesday night and a Real Basketball game broke out.
And it went down to the final tick of the clock, a dramatic game-winning one-handed dunk by R.J. Blakney to give the University of Dayton an ultra-important 55-53 victory over the University of Richmond.
The win in a game that was a knee-scraper and elbow-banger from start to finish clinched fourth place for the Flyers, earning them a first-round bye in the Atlantic 10 tournament.
The game-winning play came off an in-bounds pass from slick-and-smooth point guard Malachi Smith from just left of the backboard. Blakney received a back screen, clearing his way to the basket
Smith lobbed the ball above the rim and Blakney slammed it viciously through the orange ring with his thunder dunk.
The Flyers took a timeout with 0:02.4 seconds left to concoct the game-winning play.
“We wanted to make sure we got a chance for a shot, got a chance to win it in regulation,” UD coach Anthony Grant told Larry Hansgen on the post-game radio show.
“We ran the same play earlier and we thought the back screen was open,” he added. “Right before we put them back on the floor, the coaching staff said, ‘Run the same play we ran before,’ because it was open. To their credit, they were right.
“Heck of a pass, heck of a finish,” said Grant, putting it beyond mildly.
Richmond’s leading scorer, averaging 17 points a game, is Tyler Burton. But he picked up two quick early fouls and sat most of the first half with no points.
He played most of the second half but had only one point until he was fouled with :12.3 seconds left and the Spiders down two. He made both free throw to tie it, 53-53, the game’s eighth tie.
Richmond coach Chris Mooneuy then played a cat-and-mouse game, with the Spiders playing the role of the feline.
Richmond had only three fouls, so it had three to give and Mooney used them to prevent the Flyers from shooting. The Spiders fouled at :05.7. They fouled at :04.4. They fouled at :02.4.
It looked as if the final foul was a flagrant by Nathan Cayo on Toumani Camara when he wrapped his arms around Camara’s body and held him.
The officials took a long, long look at the monitor before determining that Cayo committed a common foul before applying the wrestling hold. So Camara was not awarded free throws.
After that foul, the Flyers huddled up, decided to run the back screen play and Blakney delivered with two exclamation points.
After missing the debilitating loss to La Salle Saturday with a sore leg, Toumani Camara returned to the lineup with a mission on his mind. He contributed a double-double with a team-leading 11 points and 12 rebounds.
As usual, the Flyers scoring was spread evenly. Joining Camara in the double-figure scoring society were three players with 10 each — Blakney, Smith and Koby Brea.
And DaRon Holmes II narrowly missed a double-double with eight point and nine rebound. All four of his baskets were dunks.
Of Camara’s return, Grant said, “A lot of things he did don’t show up on the stat sheet that impacts our team. He makes up for mistakes. He has really grown in terms of finding his way as a leader, taking control when our young guys need somebody to take control. His impact on the game tonight was huge.”
The game was back-and-forth in the first half in a game during which neither team led by more than five.
An 8-0 run gave Richmond a 19-14 lead and it was 22-17 with 7 1/2 minute left in the half.
Then the Flyer embarked on a 10-2 run that provided them with a five-point lead, 29-24, a lead they never relinquished, although Richmond drew even in the second half at 43-43, 48-48 and 53-53.
“At the 12-minute mark (UD led, 41-40) we talked about this game going to come down to making plays. We had to make plays, whether it was getting a rebound, getting a defensive stop, finishing a play, finishing free throws. . .making tough plays,” said Grant.
“We told them, ‘This is what this game is going to come down too,’” he said. “It was a one-point game and the guys understood it. They went out and did that.”
The Flyers improved to 21-9 overall and 13-4 in the A-10. UD showed it does not suffer arachnophobia by whipping the Spiders for the ninth straight time. Richmond probably lost its chance to make the top four for a bye, falling to 19-11 overall and 10-7 in the A-10
UD finishes its regular season Saturday afternoon in UD Arena against first place Davidson and the Flyers have an outside chance of claiming third or second in the A-10.