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The Last March: Dayton Flyers seniors ready for final month

Published: Saturday, February 25, 2017 @ 3:17 AM
By: David Jablonski

The theme next month is simple for a Dayton Flyers senior class that will down as the winningest in school history: The Last March.

Two games remain in the regular season after Scoochie Smith led Dayton to an 89-82 overtime victory Friday against Davidson at Belk Arena. Dayton fans have one last chance to see Smith, Kendall Pollard, Kyle Davis and Charles Cooke at UD Arena.

The Flyers host Virginia Commonwealth at 8 p.m. Wednesday. With first place on the line and the 1967 Flyers in attendance and UD on the verge of setting a single-season attendance record that has stood since the arena opened — and don’t forget a halftime performance by Red Panda — it’s shaping up to be a Senior Night for the ages.

That’s all great, but it’s also a reminder for Smith and Co. that the end is near.

“The last March, it’s bittersweet,” said Smith after making three 3-pointers and scoring 11 points in overtime. “More bitter than sweet, but it’ll be fun. I’ve had a good run with these guys. It’s been exciting playing all four years. I just appreciate all the Flyer Faithful.”

The Flyers (23-5, 14-2) head to the the final month of the season after the best February in decades. Dayton finished 7-0 in the month. It had not posted a perfect record in February since it was 8-0 in 1971.

This victory means Dayton can clinch at least a share of the Atlantic 10 championship Wednesday. If Virginia Commonwealth (23-5, 13-2) loses at Rhode Island (18-9, 10-5) in a 2 p.m. Saturday game, the Flyers would have the chance to clinch the outright regular-season title Wednesday.

The Flyers shared the title last season with VCU and St. Bonaventure. Since the league did away with divisions, they have never won an outright championship. It won’t be easy Wednesday. VCU beat Dayton 73-68 on Jan. 27 in Richmond — that remains the last loss for a UD team that has won eight straight games — and takes a nine-game winning streak to Rhode Island.

Dayton is 15-7 in March the last three seasons. That includes five NCAA tournament victories. Pollard is looking forward to his last March with the Flyers, who reached the Elite Eight when he, Smith and Davis were freshman.

“Hopefully, it’ll be like the first March,” he said.