ANALYSIS: Three takeaways from Dayton’s loss at Loyola

Javon Bennett’s injury costly in fourth A-10 defeat

CHICAGO — A tense exchange between Loyola Chicago coach Drew Valentine and Dayton Flyers coach Anthony Grant punctuated a game that lived up to the hype on the first day of March.

March Madness began with more road disappointment for No. 21 Dayton, which lost 77-72 to Loyola at Gentile Arena. As Dayton players left the court, their paths crossed with several Loyola players. Loyola’s Desmond Watson was held back by a teammate as Valentine stepped between Grant and Watson. Dayton associate coach Ricardo Greer pulled Grant back as Watson was escorted to the locker room by a teammate.

The incident ended quickly — but this is a defeat that will linger for Dayton because it likely costs it any chance of winning the A-10 regular-season title in a season in which it was the preseason favorite.

“Guys battled,” Dayton coach Anthony Grant said. “It was a really hotly-contested game. Give them credit. They made some plays. Defensively, we knew they would be disruptive. They’ve got really good players. They’re a very well-coached team. It was a great environment today. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to come out with the win.”

Credit: David Jablonski

Credit: David Jablonski

Here are three takeaways from Dayton’s 28th game:

1. Javon Bennett’s injury could potentially be more costly than the loss: Dayton’s starting point guard had seven points and four rebounds in 14 minutes in the first half but sat out the second half with a left thumb injury. Trainer Mike Mulcahey wrapped the thumb in ice, and later in the half, Bennett wore a brace on the hand.

“What I was told was he got his hand caught in a jersey, and he just wasn’t available,” Grant said. “So we’ll evaluate him and see where he’s at.”

Credit: David Jablonski

Credit: David Jablonski

2. Turnovers cost Dayton the game: Kobe Elvis ran the point with Bennett sidelined. He had seven of Dayton’s season-high 22 turnovers. DaRon Holmes II had six of the turnovers.

Dayton had not committed more than 16 turnovers in a game this season.

“They did a good job on defense,” Holmes said. “I feel like we could have done a better job with the turnovers, especially myself. I’ve got to be able to read the double teams better. There were a couple times where I was spinning, and I didn’t see them coming and they would slap at the ball.”

3. The Flyers have lost four A-10 road games by 16 points: Losses at Richmond, Virginia Commonwealth, George Mason and now Loyola followed familiar patterns with the home team making more winning plays down the stretch. Dayton has been close in each game but not good enough.

In this game, Loyola made three 3-pointers in the final 3:06 to beat the Flyers, who swept two games from Loyola a season ago.

Dayton (22-6, 12-4) fell into third place with two games to play, while Loyola (20-9, 13-3) moved a game ahead of the Flyers and within one half game of first-place Richmond (21-7, 13-2).

“We’ve just got to stay connected, stay positive,” Dayton guard Koby Brea said. “It hasn’t gone great for us on the road. We’ve just got to find a way to be able to win these games.”


Desmond Watson scored 24 points for Loyola on 9-of-13 shooting. DaRon Holmes II led Dayton with 20 points on 6-of-11 shooting.


Dayton committed a season-high 22 turnovers. Loyola scored 20 points off those turnovers. Loyola had 11 turnovers.


Dayton plays Saint Louis (10-18, 3-12) at 9 p.m. Tuesday at Chaifetz Arena in St. Louis. The Flyers won the first matchup 70-65 on Jan. 16 at UD Arena.

Dayton lost 65-61 in its last visit to Saint Louis in the final game of the regular season a year ago. Two years ago, Dayton lost 72-61 at Saint Louis. The Flyers swept the season series in 2020 and 2021.

Saint Louis plays at Rhode Island (11-17 5-10) on Saturday. The Billikens are tied for last place with George Washington (14-14, 3-12).

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