Dayton Flyers Throwback Thursday: Looking back at first game against Duquesne in 1953

Published: Thursday, January 31, 2019 @ 9:46 AM

The sports front page of the Dayton Daily News on Jan. 6, 1953.
The sports front page of the Dayton Daily News on Jan. 6, 1953.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Every Thursday we’ll dive into the archives to look back at University of Dayton basketball history.

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The Dayton Flyers play Duquesne at 2 p.m. Saturday at UD Arena.

While it’s far from one of the top rivalries in the Atlantic 10 Conference or in Dayton basketball history, the Flyers have played the Dukes more than any other current A-10 program.

This will be the 76th meeting in the series, which Dayton leads 52-23, since 1953. They have played at least once every season since 1995.

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When the teams first played on Jan. 5, 1953 in Pittsburgh, Duquesne was in the midst of a four-year stretch in which it would win 20 or more games. Dayton finished 16-13 in 1952-53 but won 25 games each of the next three seasons.

Among the famous Dayton names to play this game were: sophomore John Horan, the 10th-leading scorer in school history (1,757 points); sophomore Jack Sallee, the 14th-leading scorer in school history (1,610 points); James Paxson, the 53rd-leading scorer in school history (956 points); junior Don Donoher, the winningest coach in Dayton history; and senior Tom Frericks, who would go on to become Dayton’s athletic director.

This story, by Joe Burns, appeared in the Jan. 6, 1953, edition of the Dayton Daily News.

Sallee paces rally as Flyers triumph, 72-70

PITTSBURGH — So Tom Blackburn’s a calm coach, is he? Hah.

Walking the block from Duquesne Gardens to the Flyers’ quarters at Webster Hall hotel after last night’s game, Tom chuckled: “Tell me one thing: What the devil was the score?” His emotions had just plumb got the better of him.

• • •

WELL, IT WAS 72-70 against Duquesne University, a team which had won eight of its 10 previous starts, but that’s putting it mildly.

This dear stay-at-homes, should be recognized and recounted as one of the GREAT athletic victories in U.D. annals.

OK, so maybe the 1952-53 Flyers won’t get to the NIT; maybe they’ll even lose more than they’ll win. But last night, in heart at least, they were champions.

• • •

“I KNEW the kids wouldn’t quit,” Coach Blackburn commented after the contest.

And, by golly, they didn’t. Not after a first half that ended 30-21 against them; not even after they had fallen behind by 14 points early in the third period and, finally not even when they were forced into a second extra five-minute period.

Yes, sir, this inauguration of U.D.-Duquesne athletic relations proved to be quite an ocassion, even if it did bring out only 2,311 customers.

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This was the sort of battle after which a fellow feels almost guilty about singling out individuals, but the guilt would be even greater were the fellow to underplay Jack Sallee.

This spunky, sparky Springfield Public product was, above all his valiant fellows, the one who did the most to pull the Flyers up out of nowhere and push ‘em to the heights.

In the first half, he had scored only one basket and three points; in fact, he had got away only four shots from the floor. But after the interval — well.

Eighteen precious points were his contribution. More spectacularly, eight goals in 17 attempts. A final, full count of 21 points.

• • •

THIS DIDN’T give him high scoring honors for the game because Duquesne’s Dick Ricketts also was rather formidable with 26. But Dick shot 37 times for his nine fielders and missed five of his 13 free throws whereas Sallee missed two of seven.

And in the clutch Sallee outdid the great Ricketts.

Notwithstanding Jumpin’ Jack’s magnificence, however, this fifth victory for the Flyers in nine starts must be labeled — no matter how trite you may think the term — a “team victory.”

Or better still, a “bench victory,” — with a bow on the side to Blackburn for masterful juggling.

Tom did some first-half experimenting that got him no place in particular against a Duquesne club which played steady, heady ball and had 30 points to show for it to Dayton’s 21.

But Blackburn found the right combine after about four minutes of the third quarter when he substituted Larry Pedicord at guard for Don Miller, teaming the former Northridge high boy with Johnny Horan, Jimmy Paxson, Don Donoher and the still somewhat insignificant Sallee.

Results were not immediately forthcoming; not even when Dudey Moore, Duquesne’s coach, had to pull Ricketts with only 4:45 gone in the period because of a fourth foul.

The score was 43-35 for the Dukes when Sallee started to get hot and kindled the flame that was to light the way to Dayton victory. Jack hit with a running jump shot, then a layup and Horan also laid one in.

On the surface, the three buckets didn’t help much. Because Duquesne replied with five points and still led by seven, 48-41.

But now the Flyers had the idea. Sallee went in for another bunny. Donoher stole the ball, and it led to a free throw for Sallee, which Jack sank. Pedicord got his own rebound and sank it. Meanwhile one free throw out of two was all the homesters could score compared with these five Dayton points, and the third quarter ended 49-46. U.D. was in the ballgame — for the first time since midway in the opening period.

Then came discouragement. With 8:55 of the regulation 40 minutes still to be played and Duquesne ahead 50-47, Horan, who had been doing a grand job of rebounding and a nice job at offensive center or forward, fouled out.

With 8:14 left, Paxson, who’d been a whiz at defensive rebounding, also drew a No. 3. More discouragement.

“Discouragement,” did we say? This band of Flyers just wasn’t being discouraged last night — even by some dubious refereeing.

• • •

ADMITTEDLY, though the sight of the lineup Blackburn was using — partly through choice but by now more through necessity — would have brought shaking of heads by those who think Dayton’s bench is its weakness. With Sallee and Donoher were the rakish-looking Pedicord, the ponderous-looking Vaughn Taylor and the still raw George Woywood.

But on this night, these were not weaklings but strong young men and how they scrapped.

• • •

AND WITH 4:48 to go, they had tied the score at 54-all. Sallee’s push shot did the trick. Then they tied it again at 56 on Pedicord’s tip-in of a Sallee attempt.

With 3:48 left, they up and took the lead at 58-57 when Donoher pushed one home.

• • •

RICKETTS restored the lead to Duquesne, 59-58. Woywood’s shot did everything except complete the trip through the hoop, but Pedicord got the rebound and sank it, making it 60-59 Dayton.

Fletcher Johnson sank only the first of two free throws, but it was enough for a 60-all deadlock. Taylor did likewise, making it 61-60 at the same time getting rid of Johnson via foul No. 5. Sallee missed one, but sank the other, making it 62-60 with 40 seconds left.

Ricketts hit the side of the bankboard with a shot, and Taylor got the ball only to lose it. Al Bailey’s set shot was short. Woywood got the rebound and threw it right into the hands of Marty Schwemmer for an easy Duquesne basket, sending the game into overtime at 63-all.

• • •

DUQUESNE got the tipoff, but Sallee stole the ball. Sallee sank a brace of free ones. Ricketts’ reverse pivot made it 64-all. Pedicord sank a tie-breaking set shot on Taylor’s pass. Steve Garay obliged Dayton by blowing two free throws, but Ricketts cashed two, making it 66-all. There the score stood at the end of the first overtime after Pedicord had saved one basket and Tom Frericks in for Woywood with 2:04 of overtime gone, had teamed with Donoher to steal the ball on another ocassion.

In the second overtime, Donoher again got the tipoff, but Donoher grabbed the rebound of a Duke’s shot and Dayton drew first blood on Taylor’s hooker. Bailey’s set knotted the issue again at 68-68, but Taylor fed Sallee for another successful push shot.

Frericks made two saves in less than a minute, and Bailey threw the ball outside once in trying to pass to Ricketts. Garay notched two points after a foul by Donoher, making it 70-all. But after the Dukes again gained possession, Donoher slapped the ball, and it went free for Frericks to pounce on.

Then Garay fouled Taylor. Vaughn sank the first toss, and though he missed the second, that point was the big one, the eventual winner. It came 57 seconds from the end of the second overtime.

• • •

RICKETTS MISSED a shot, and Donoher got the rebound. That grab led, soon after, to Garay’s fifth foul, and Pedicord’s point in the second of the two free throws.

That, it turned out, was the end of the scoring with 25 seconds remaining. The Dukes got three shots under the basket in a hurry, but the Flyers harassed them too much. Then finally Ricketts tried a long one. He missed. Frericks came up with the ball and was scuttling from under the basket when the all-conclusive siren sounded at last.

THUS A STIRRING victory covering Dayton’s subs with glories wound up a contest that had been almost a total entertainment loss up to halftime. At that point, Dayton had just six goals in 39 attempts, and Duquesne, except for five first-quarter set shots, wasn’t much better, totaling just 10 in 39 to offset a good floor play.

Each side was charged with 86 field-goal attempts, 26 of which U.D. converted to Duquesne’s 22. The Flyers outrebounded the Dukes 56-51. Duquesne missed 16 charity tosses to Dayton’s 15.