DAYTON, Ohio — The Dayton Flyers celebrated their first outright Atlantic 10 championship on Thursday with cake. Ashley's Pastry Shop baked them a cake with a photo of the players in the middle and the hashtags "#TrueTeam" on top of the photo and "#TrueChampion" below it."I just think in general our team and who we are have learned how to do it a certain way," Dayton coach Archie Miller said after the game. "From where we are, taking it all the way back to the end of the semester last May when Steve (McElvene) passed away to watch us go through the offseason and the pressures and dealing with the adversity we've dealt with, this is about as proud as you can be of a group of kids."
No one could have scripted Senior Night any better for Scoochie Smith, Charles Cooke, Kendall Pollard, Kyle Davis and walk-on Jeremiah Bonsu.
"It was amazing," Smith said. "It felt like sophomore year a little bit but a little better. We went undefeated sophomore year at home. Now we've went back to back. But the journey's not over. We've got more goals to accomplish."
The Dayton Flyers (24-5, 15-2) will play their regular-season finale at George Washington (17-13, 9-8) at 8 p.m. Saturday at the Smith Center in Washington, D.C. From a conference perspective, the game is mostly meaningless for Dayton.
"Being able to seal the deal at home was a big moment for our team," Miller said. "We didn't have to kick ourselves in the butt and say, 'Man, we've got to go try this at GW and get a share of it.' Absolutely being able to call ourselves A-10 regular-season champions, that's important to us."
The Flyers have wrapped up the No. 1 seed in the A-10 tournament and will play in the quarterfinals at noon Friday at PPG Paints Arena in Pittsburgh. They have also clinched the best A-10 regular-season mark since the league went to an 18-game schedule in 2014-15. Davidson won the regular-season title with a 14-4 mark two seasons ago. UD, VCU and St. Bonaventure were all 14-4 last season.
Dayton needs this victory to improve its NCAA tournament seeding. Any victory could help the team move out of the dreaded No. 8-9 matchup in the first round. The winner of that game would have to play a No. 1 seed seed in the second round, barring the first victory by a No. 16 seed in the history of the tournament.
Most experts see Dayton as a lock for the tournament no matter what happens Saturday or in the A-10 tournament. A loss to George Washington wouldn't look great, of course. Dayton ranks 21st in the RPI. The Colonials rank 109th.
George Washington is no pushover. It has won four straight games and would get at least the No. 6 seed if it beats Dayton. It could climb to No. 5 seed if St. Bonaventure (18-11, 10-7) loses Saturday at home to Massachusetts (14-16, 4-13). If not for a controversial, last-second loss to VCU, the Colonials would be 7-1 at home in A-10 play.
George Washington rallied from a 45-29 deficit in the second half to beat Fordham 67-66 Wednesday in Bronx, N.Y. Tyler Cavanaugh, the team's leading scorer with 17.9 points per game, hit three free throws with 0.9 seconds left to win the game.
"Our guys are resilient," interim coach Maurice Joseph told GWSports.com after the game. "We've shown that all year. We were possessed (defensively) in the second half and guys made huge shots. I'm just so proud of this team for our grit, fight and toughness."
This article is written by David Jablonski from The Dayton Daily News and was legally licensed via the Tribune Content Agency through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.