KISSIMMEE, FL. – The University of Miami men’s basketball team dropped a 76-60 decision to Dayton Thursday afternoon in the first round of the ESPN Events Invitational.
The Flyers’ excellent shooting, particularly beyond the arc, proved too much for Miami (3-2) to handle at the HP Field House at the ESPN Wide World of Sports. Third-year sophomore guard Isaiah Wong paced the Hurricanes with 10 points in the Thanksgiving Day setback.
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“Well, Dayton’s pressure defense to start the game really disrupted us. They got into our heads,” Miami head coach Jim Larrañaga said. “We became very disjointed and never were able to organize our offense or defense to the point where there was a chance for us to make a comeback and win the game.”
Miami held an early 13-11 lead, but the Hurricanes then stalled offensively. They missed nine straight shots over five-plus minutes, as Dayton (2-3) went on a 9-0 run to go in front, 20-13, with 7:27 on the clock.
The Flyers continued their offensive surge, posting a stretch in which they went 8-of-10 from the floor, to go up by 13, 36-23, with 1:06 left before the break. The Hurricanes scored the final basket of the half and went into the intermission down by 11, 36-35.
Dayton shot 53.8 percent (14-of-26) in the opening 20 minutes, while Miami posted a 30.0 percent clip (9-of-30). The Flyers also recorded a 44.4 percent mark (4-of-9) from deep, while the Hurricanes shot 9.1 percent (1-of-11) beyond the arc in the opening frame.
Coming out of the locker room, Miami scored six straight points to pull within five, but Dayton countered with 10 in a row of its own. The burst included back-to-back 3-pointers by redshirt junior guard Elijah Weaver, helping the Flyers take a then-game-high 15-point edge, 46-31, with 15:24 remaining.
The Hurricanes never got any closer than 11 the rest of the way, as Dayton earned the victory in front of a bevy of its fans clad in red and white.
“We did do a good job in the second half of cutting the lead to six, but they immediately made an adjustment and made a couple of threes,” Larrañaga said. “That made all the difference.”
Wong finished the day as the Hurricanes’ lone double-digit scorer, marking the first time Miami had just one such player since March 4, 2020. Three other Hurricanes notched eight points, including freshman guards Bensley Joseph and Wooga Poplar.
Dayton freshman forward DaRon Holmes II led all scorers with 15 points on 5-of-6 shooting. Freshman guard Malachi Smith logged 14 points and a game-high seven assists, while Weaver also scored 14 points, shooting 4-of-5 from deep. Redshirt freshman forward Mustapha Amzil added 11 points in the victory.
The Flyers shot 58.7 percent (27-of-46) from the floor overall, while Miami had a 38.3 percent ledger (23-of-60). The 3-point discrepancy was even wider, with Dayton registering a dazzling 57.9 percent showing (11-of-19), including going 7-of-10 in the second half. Miami, meanwhile, shot just 20.0 percent (4-of-20) from deep.
Dayton’s 3-point percentage was the best by a Miami opponent since Jan. 27, 2019, while their field goal clip was the highest the Hurricanes have allowed since Jan. 4, 2020.
“Once you establish a really good inside game, then the threes start flowing effortlessly. That’s what happened,” Larrañaga said. “We weren’t able to stop them inside. That gave them a tremendous amount of confidence; they could start shooting threes and felt no pressure at all.”
The Hurricanes return to the court Friday at 11 a.m., when they take on the loser of the Kansas/North Texas game in their second of three contests at the HP Field House.
Miami Hurricanes Athletics Alex Schwartz contributed to recap