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DAYTON, Ohio – Playing in one of the toughest environments in college basketball, the William & Mary men’s basketball team threatened the nation’s eighth-longest home court winning streak, but suffered its first loss of the season, 69-66, to Atlantic 10 favorite Dayton on Saturday afternoon.
W&M (3-1), which led by as many as 11 in the first half, rallied from a nine-point deficit with 6:33remaining to take a two-point lead, 62-60, at the 1:29 mark, but the Flyers (3-0) answered with six straight points and held off a tough-nosed Tribe effort.
Junior guard Daniel Dixon led the Tribe attack with 24 points, just one off his career high, on 9-of-16 shooting, including 6-of-10 from 3-point range. Senior Sean Sheldon posted his third straight double-digit effort with 12 points on a perfect 5-of-5 from the floor, while junior Omar Prewitt added 10 points. Senior Terry Tarpey finished with eight points, a team-high six rebounds, six assists and two steals.
The Tribe led by nine at the half, 30-21, and maintained the nine-point cushion, 42-33, following a Dixon 3-pointer at the 15:12 mark. The Flyers, which have won 25-straight at home, came to life behind its near capacity crowd of 12,796, putting together a 25-7 run.
Dayton scored seven straight drawing within, 42-40, just a minute and a half after Dixon’s triple. Steve McElvene pulled the Flyers even at 47 with a dunk at the 10:30 mark, before a Charles Cooke steal and fastbreak lay-up just 17 seconds later gave the home team its first lead since the 11:32 mark of the first half.
The Flyers scored seven straight points to end the spurt, including another McElvene dunk. Cooke’s 3-pointer from the right side with six and a half minutes remaining stretched the UD lead to 58-49. McElvene (6) and Cooke (10) sparked the run, combining for 16 of Dayton’s 25 points.
W&M did not fold under the pressure, responding with 11 straight points. Sophomore Michael Schlotman canned a 3-pointer to beat the shot clock with 4:34 left. A driving lay-up from Prewitt cut the gap to one, before Dixon splashed a 3-pointer from the left side, putting W&M on top 60-58 with 2:18 remaining.
After Dayton tied the contest at 60, Schlotman found Tarpey for a cutting lay-up just before the end of the shot clock to give the visitors a 62-60 lead with just a minute and a half remaining. Cooke, though, tied the game thanks to a pair of free throws on the ensuing Dayton possession. Kyle Davis came up with a big steal off a Tribe in-bounds pass and went the length of the court for a fastbreak lay-up to give Dayton the lead for good.
In total, the Flyers scored six straight points, following two more Cooke free throws, to take a four-point lead with just under a minute left. A Dixon 3-pointer with 3.7 seconds remaining cut the margin to 67-66. Cooke connected on 1-of-2 from the charity stripe with 2.7 left, but UD’s Kendall Pollard rebounded the miss and was fouled. He hit the first and missed second, but the Tribe could not get off a desperation equalizing effort.
W&M finished the game shooting 41.8 percent (23-of-55) from the floor and 45.5 percent (10-of-22) from 3-point range against a Dayton defense that had limited its first two opponents, including Alabama, to just 30.6 percent from the field and 22.2 percent from 3-point range.
The Flyers connected on 47.2 percent (25-of-53) from the field, including a 57.1 percent (16-of-28) clip in the decisive second half.
One of the biggest factors in the game came at the free throw line where Dayton hit 13-of-18 (72.2 percent), while the Tribe was just 10-of-19 (52.6 percent).
The Green and Gold dished out 16 assists on 23 made field goals and forced the Flyers into 16 turnovers. Dayton outrebounded W&M, 39-30.
Sophomore Greg Malinowski connected on back-to-back 3-pointers, 25 seconds apart, to give W&M an 11-8 lead with 13:11remaining in the first half. Dayton regained the advantage with four straight points, before the Green and Gold ripped off a 13-2 run in a taking a double-digit advantage.
Tarpey started the spurt on the defensive end, making a steal and cashing it in for a fast-break dunk. After Dixon knocked down a triple, Sheldon scored six straight points. Another Tarpey steal led to a pair of David Cohn free throws to give W&M a 24-14 advantage at the 6:46 mark.
The Tribe lead reached its largest at 27-16 as Dixon drove and kicked to Prewitt for a 3-pointer from the right wing with 4:20 left. Dayton drew within 27-21 after a Ryan Mikesell 3-pointer from the right corner, but Dixon answered with one from the left wing in the final minute of the first half to send the Tribe to the locker room with a 30-21 cushion.
Cooke, who transferred to Dayton from JMU, led the Flyers with 18 points, while McElvene just missed a double-double with 12 points and nine rebounds. Pollard chipped in 11 and six rebounds, and Scoochie Smith tallied eight points, five rebounds and five assists.
Schlotman tallied four points off the bench and dished out a career-high three assists compared to just one turnover. Malinowski added six points off the bench and shared team-high rebounding honors with six.
The Tribe returns home for a men’s and women’s doubleheader on Wednesday at Kaplan Arena. The men host instate foe Hampton at 7:30 p.m. after the Tribe women take on American at 5 p.m. Both games will be streamed live for free in HD on Tribe Athletics TV via Stretch Internet.
Tribe fans can also catch the men’s action over the Tribe Radio Network with Jay Colley and Charlie Woollum on the call. The Tide 92.3 FM and 107.9 Bach FM are the flagship stations of the Tribe Radio Network and the audio is also available over the Web at TribeAthletics.com.