Injuries to two key players and back-to-back losses have all but erased the memory of Dayton’s recent 13-game winning streak.
The 16th-ranked Flyers hope to rebound from their worst performance of the season Saturday night when they visit Richmond in an Atlantic 10 matchup.
Dayton (14-3, 2-2) hoped to grab a share of the Atlantic 10 lead against No. 23 Xavier on Thursday, but was unable to overcome the absence of two of its top four scorers and an off game from star guard Brian Roberts in a 69-43 loss.
Marcus Johnson was the only player in double figures with 12 points for the Flyers, who set season lows in points, shooting percentage (30.4) and 3-pointers made (two). The 42 points was Dayton’s lowest total since a 58-42 loss to Miami of Ohio on Nov. 21, 2005.
“In this league, the best defensive team usually wins,” Dayton coach Brian Gregory said. “We’ve got to tighten up our defense quite a bit.”
Thursday’s defeat followed the Flyers’ 82-71 upset loss to Massachusetts and was their first in three games this season against ranked opponents. They have wins over No. 14 Louisville and 22nd-ranked Rhode Island, though neither team is currently in the Top 25.
Already missing Charles Little, its top player of the bench, and second-leading scorer Chris Wright, Dayton also didn’t have a healthy Roberts, the team leader with 19.2 points per game. Roberts, who has been fighting a respiratory illness, had a season-low five points and went 2-for-5 from the field before sitting out most of the second half.
“I felt OK warming up, but once the game started, I got winded real quick,” Roberts said. “I couldn’t catch my breath. In the second half, I started cramping up.”
Although they hope to have Roberts back at full strength, the Flyers will not have Little or Wright available Saturday. Little has a fracture in his right foot that will sideline him for four to six weeks while Wright has missed the last four games with a broken bone in his ankle.
Missing the offense usually provided by Little and Wright is difficult enough, but those absences will also affect Roberts, who now figures to get even more attention from the opposition.
Putting points up against Richmond (9-8, 2-2) won’t be easy because the Spiders rank fourth in the Atlantic 10 in scoring defense (65.2 ppg).
“They are a totally different team,” Gregory said of Richmond. “They run a different system and a different style. They play the Princeton offense and the Princeton defense, it’s very difficult and unique. It is the only time we will see it all year long.”
Richmond has won five of its last seven games, but is coming off last Saturday’s 76-67 home loss to La Salle.
David Gonzalvez scored 21 points for the youthful Spiders, who attempted only five free throws while allowing La Salle to shoot 58.7 percent (27-of-46) from the field.
Richmond lost its only game this season against a ranked team, 80-63 to then-No. 3 Memphis on Nov. 6. The Spiders haven’t beaten a Top 25 opponent at home since a 73-71 victory over No. 14 Georgia Tech on Dec. 1, 1990.
Richmond’s top four scorers and six of the top seven are freshmen and sophomores. The Spiders get 82 percent of their scoring from first and second-year players.
Dayton had lost two straight to Richmond - both on the road - before posting a 72-54 victory on Jan. 20, 2007 in the most recent meeting. The Flyers have won seven of the last nine matchups.