A-10 preseason wraps up

By Nick Bellofatto

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Courtesy of Dayton Athletics

On Monday night, the Atlantic 10 men’s basketball season opened with a game between Rhode Island and No. 4 Pittsburgh.

However, before the Panthers defeated the Rams 83-75, there were many preseason games underway that could prove to be significant in the way the conference pans out. Juniors, sophomores and freshmen are returning to their respected teams with more experience, poise and most importantly, a blank slate.

Dayton coasts by Findlay

The Flyers closed out its exhibition schedule with an 85-68 win over Findlay Saturday Nov. 6 at UD Arena. Redshirt junior Josh Parker led Flyers scorers with 15 points and also dished out a game-high four assists and had zero turnovers.

Parker was 3-of-5 from behind the arch, including back-to back treys to help the Flyers pull away from the Oilers, 49-44, during the middle of the second half. Parker also tied for a game-high in rebounds with seven.

Dayton outscored Findlay, 21-10, in the final seven minutes of the game and held their largest lead of the night, a 19-point advantage at 85-66, with just 39 seconds left to play in the game.

The Flyers dominated in all aspects of the game, winning the battle of the boards by a + 10 margin and the turnover battle with a plus five margin. Dayton also shot an impressive 75 percent (24-of-32) from the free-throw line, solidifying its complete game. The Flyers went 2-0 in exhibition games, also tallying a 77-66 win over Grand Valley State on Nov. 1.

Xavier suffers loss

Xavier was pushed to the limit in its final exhibition and fell to Bellarmine 63-61 on Nov. 6. Even though it was a preseason game, the Musketeer fans packed the house and recorded 10,015 fans in attendance at the Cintas Center.

The game went back and forth all night, and with just 4:15 left in the contest, the Knights pulled within three on a Chris Dowe 10-foot jumper. Continuing to battle with just 32 seconds left in the game, the Musketeers’ Tu Holloway hit a 3-pointer that pulled Xavier within two. Just seven seconds later, Holloway tied the game, going 2-for-2 from the charity stripe.

It was at the free-throw line where the game was decided, as Bellarmine’s Jeremy Kendle hit two free throws with just 1.3 seconds left on the clock. As the buzzer rang, Holloway took a long shot that rattled off the front of the rim and sealed the Bellarmine win.

Even though the Musketeers fell, Xavier had positives in the game in the likes of Holloway who led the Musketeers with 22 points and three assists. Redshirt sophomore Mark Lyons was second in scoring with 17 points on 50 percent shooting from the field. Overall, Xavier went 21-of-50 from the field for 42 percent shooting overall and 37.5 percent shooting from behind the arch.

Owls selected to repeat

Even with strong performances in the preseason from a number of A-10 teams, it is three-time defending A-10 champions Temple who are the favorite to repeat. This poll was voted by the league’s head coaches and a selected number of media personnel as well.

The Owls are looking for their record 10th A-10 title this year and received 19 first place votes to lead all schools with an overwhelming 350 points. The Musketeers were picked to place second and received 325 points, while Richmond was picked to place third and recorded 311 points. Dayton was listed first on one ballot and finished with 310 points to place it one point behind the Spiders and take fourth in the preseason poll.

The Owls open its A-10 title defense on Nov. 12 against Seton Hall at the Liacouras Center. For the fifth year in a row, the A-10 championship will be held at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, N.J., with quarterfinal action beginning Friday, March 11.

Nick Bellofatto can be reached at [email protected]