ANALYSIS: Three takeaways from Dayton’s victory at Davidson

Flyers cut down on the turnovers and get a career-best performance from DaRon Holmes II

Credit: David Jablonski

Credit: David Jablonski

DAVIDSON, N.C. — Davidson put its 2022 Atlantic 10 Conference regular-season championship trophy front and center at Belk Arena. It’s right inside the main entrance, a short walk from the Wildcat statue outside the arena and the numerous Stephen Curry mentions inside the arena.

The Dayton Flyers likely didn’t see any of that Saturday because they entered the arena through the backdoor close to the visiting locker room. They didn’t need to see the trophy to know they want the 2023 version. They finished a game back of Davidson last season despite beating the Wildcats 82-76 in their only meeting in the final game of the regular season.

The Flyers are a long way from that trophy as 2023 begins, but they are closer than the other 14 teams in the conference after a 69-55 victory against Davidson on New Year’s Eve. With its fifth straight victory, Dayton (10-5 overall) became the first team to win two A-10 games, and it will sit alone in first place until at least Wednesday with most of the teams in the league having played only one game.

In an up-and-down season, this qualifies as the high point for Dayton, but based on how it has performed since a 77-49 loss at Virginia Tech, even better days may be ahead.

“We had fun,” Dayton forward DaRon Holmes II said. “We’re still learning. Our team is getting it together pretty well. It was a good performance.”

Here are three takeaways from Dayton’s 15th game:

1. Holmes enjoyed a career day: The sophomore forward scored a career-high 32 points. He made 11 of 14 field goals, 1 of 1 3-pointers and 9 of 13 free throws. He improved his season scoring average to 18.9 points and has averaged 25.7 points in the last five games.

“He saw a lot in the non-conference in terms of different looks and people throwing double teams at him from different directions,” Dayton coach Anthony Grant said. “I thought he handled it really well. He did a great job (Saturday) of being aggressive and showing he’s capable of stepping away from the basket and going into the post. His ability to maneuver inside was great to see.”

Holmes outperformed another A-10 Player of the Year candidate, Davidson guard Foster Loyer, who scored 12 points on 4-of-14 shooting.

2. Dayton overcame an offensive lull in the second half: The Flyers missed their first 12 shots from the field in the second half but made 7 of 12 free throws during that stretch. Even as the shots stopped falling, Dayton kept its focus on getting the ball to Holmes.

“We understood that we needed to go inside,” Grant said.

Eventually, that approach paid off in made shots as Holmes and Camara scored on consecutive possessions. Davidson tied the game at 47-47 at the 11:12 mark, but Dayton quickly pulled back in front.

Credit: David Jablonski

Credit: David Jablonski

3. Dayton continues to play with a short bench: Only eight players were available for the third straight game. Walk-on Brady Uhl played one minute in the first half. Otherwise, it was a seven-man team.

However, Dayton’s seven scholarship players all contributed. Zimi Nwokeji attempted only one shot but made it, a layup in the first half, and also had two assists. Koby Brea made all three of his 3-point attempts and scored nine points. Mike Sharavjamts made a 3-pointer on Dayton’s second possession.

Mustapha Amzil had 10 rebounds and seven points. Toumani Camara had 10 points and eight rebounds. R.J. Blakney missed all three of his field-goal attempts but made 5 of 8 free throws.


Holmes topped his previous career best of 28 points, recorded against Massachusetts in the A-10 tournament last season, by four points. He is the first Flyer to score 30 or more points since Obi Toppin had 31 in a 77-59 victory against North Florida on Dec. 30, 2019. Holmes recorded the highest points total by a Flyer since Josh Cunningham scored 32 against Rhode Island in an 88-74 loss at UD Arena on Jan. 20, 2018.


The Flyers built a 44-33 halftime lead in part because Holmes scored 20 points on perfect 8-of-8 shooting but also because they had only three turnovers after committing 14 in the first half Wednesday in a 69-57 victory against Duquesne. Dayton finished with seven turnovers, their lowest total of the season by two. They average 13.9 turnovers per game.


Dayton plays Saint Joseph’s (6-7, 0-1) at 7 p.m. Wednesday at UD Arena. The Hawks lost 83-78 at home to Saint Louis (9-5, 1-0) on Saturday.

About the Author