ANALYSIS: 3 takeaways from Dayton’s victory against Loyola Chicago

Flyers sweep season series against A-10 newcomers

CHICAGO, Ill. — Kendall Pollard and Kyle Davis, two members of the winningest senior class in Dayton Flyers history, sat two rows behind the UD bench on Friday night at the Gentile Center. They reunited with trainer Mike Mulcahey, who worked on them throughout their four seasons, after the game and then got a hug from Dayton coach Anthony Grant outside the locker room.

Explore» PHOTOS: Dayton vs. Loyola Chicago

Pollard and Davis found ways to win throughout their college careers — 102 times, to be exact — and the current Flyers showed that same attitude in a 65-49 victory against Loyola Chicago. The key for Dayton now will be keeping the momentum going in the final four games of the regular season and then in the Atlantic 10 Conference tournament, where a NCAA tournament berth will be on the line.

With its third straight victory and second straight road victory, Dayton (18-9, 10-4) distanced itself from a series of perplexing results against George Washington, Rhode Island and St. Bonaventure. The Flyers once again look like the A-10 favorite and the team that won seven straight games by double digits earlier this season.

“We’re rolling,” Dayton forward DaRon Holmes II said. “We had a lot of people who did not believe in us, and we want them to continue to not believe in us. We’re going to keep rolling regardless. For the ones who are sticking around through our ups and downs, we really appreciate you guys, and we thank you.

With four games to play, Dayton trails first-place Virginia Commonwealth (19-7, 10-3) by a half game. It’s a half game in front of Saint Louis (17-9, 9-4) and Fordham (21-5, 9-4). Fordham plays at VCU at 2:30 p.m. Saturday. Saint Louis plays a home game against Duquesne at 8 p.m. Saturday.

Here are three takeaways from Dayton’s 27th game:

1. Dayton’s big men dominated: Holmes and Toumani Camara combined for 37 points. With five points left in the game, they had 36 points, and Loyola had 38.

“That’s something we’re capable of doing,” Camara said, “and it’s something that we need to be more consistent about.”

Holmes scored 20 points on 8-of-10 shooting and grabbed 10 rebounds. He made two shots in the first two minutes after not making his first shot until the 43rd minute in an 85-81 overtime victory against Loyola on Jan. 31 at UD Arena.

“I was just more focused and locked in,” Holmes said. “That’s something that I work on, being confident and being a great teammate.”

Camara scored 17 points on 7-of-9 shooting, building on 51 points last week in victories against VCU and Saint Louis. He scored six points in a 51-second span to push Dayton’s lead to 20 points midway through the second half.

2. Dayton improved its 3-point defense: Loyola made 5 of 24 3-pointers (21%) after making 13 of 25 (52%) in the first game. This was the 17th time an opponent has shot worse than 30% against Dayton. It ranks sixth in the country in 3-point defense (28.2%). If that mark holds up, it would be the best mark for a Dayton defense since at least 1997.

Philip Alston, who made 4 of 9 3-pointers in the first game, including a last-second 3 to send the game to overtime, made 1 of 3 shots from long range in this game. He led the Ramblers with 16 points. Braden Norris missed all seven of his 3s after making 2 of 5 in the first game.

Dayton led from start to finish after building a 5-0 lead on a basket by Holmes and a 3-pointer by Malachi Smith on the first two possessions. Dayton then turned a 15-12 lead into a 23-12 lead, its largest of the first half, with an 8-0 run from the 8:05 to the 4:38 mark.

“I thought defensively we understood the scouting report,” Grant said. “We understood the game plan. We wanted to try to limit some of the things they had success with in the first game, specifically at the 3-point line.”

3. The Flyers continue to win without their full roster: R.J. Blakney did not travel with the team to Chicago. He has not played in four of the last seven games. Grant said after the game Blakney is “going through some personal stuff, but he should be fine.”

Asked if Blakney was injured, Grant said, “It’s a combination of things.”

Dayton did have Malachi Smith in the starting lineup for the second straight game after he missed the VCU game with an ankle injury. He had six points and three assists in 27 minutes.


Holmes improved his scoring average to 17.6 points per game. This was his 13th 20-point game of the season. He also had 10 rebounds. This was his 10th double-double. Camara is averaging 14.1.


Dayton made 4 of 18 3-pointers (22.2%). It is now 2-4 in games in which it shoots worse than 25%.


Dayton plays Massachusetts (13-13, 4-1) at 7 p.m. Wednesday at the Mullins Center in Amherst, Mass. UMass has lost five games in a row and plays at Rhode Island at 2 p.m. Saturday. The Minutemen are 4-3 at home and 0-7 on the road in A-10 play.


Dayton at Massachusetts, 7 p.m., CBS Sports Network, 1290, 95.7

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