NEW YORK (AP) — Dayton sputtered down the stretch of the regular season, losing three of six and winning the other three by a combined five points.
Flyers coach Archie Miller gave his players a couple days off before preparing for the Atlantic 10 Tournament, hoping to reset in Brooklyn, and they gave him a reason to be optimistic.
Charles Cooke scored 14 points, Dyshawn Pierre had 10 points and 14 rebounds, and top-seeded Dayton cruised to a 69-54 victory Friday against Richmond in the A-10 quarterfinals.
“I thought Tuesday and Wednesday we had about two of the best practices we’ve had since probably early January, late December,” Miller said. “We brought what we worked on here, and we’ve got to get — we’ve got to get going a little bit better on offense in terms of ball movement, but I was happy with the effort level. “We came in ready.”
The Flyers (25-6) will face fourth-seeded St. Joseph’s in Saturday’s semifinals at Barclays Center. Dayton hasn’t won an A-10 tournament since 2003.
T.J. Cline led 10th-seeded Richmond (16-16) with 25 points. Ten days ago, the Spiders lost a one-point game to the Flyers at Richmond, but they were out of this one early.
“It’s hard to believe a week or so ago we scored 84 points (against the Flyers), but they played a very good game, and we were just behind the whole time,” Richmond coach Chris Mooney said.
The Flyers, who lost the A-10 championship game last season to VCU, dominated the first half, racing to a 20-4 lead and going to the break leading by 13.
The lead hit 20 three minutes into the second half, when Cooke finished a fast break with a two-handed slam. Cooke’s 3-pointer from the top of the key with 11 minutes left made it 54-29.
Kendall Pollard, who missed much of February with a left knee injury, started and played 20 minutes. He scored four points and had an ice pack on his knee after the game.
“I don’t know when it’s going to hurt. It just comes and goes,” Pollard said.