Saint Mary’s trimmed the Dayton Flyers’ 24-point lead to 10 in less than four minutes in the second half. For a brief moment, it appeared possible Dayton might lose a game — or at least have to squeak out a victory — it had controlled from the opening minutes.
Then, just as they did in victories over Georgia and Virginia Tech in the Maui Invitational, the Flyers made the big shots to regain momentum, never letting the Gaels truly get back in the game.
A 3-pointer by Ibi Watson pushed the lead to 61-48 at the 10:48 mark. Trey Landers scored a minute later, and for the most part, except one last run in the final minutes, the Flyers coasted to a 78-68 victory at Talking Stick Arena.
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Dayton (7-1) has won six games by double figures since an 86-81 victory against Indiana State in the season opener. It has been a dominant team and lived up to its status as the nation’s 19th-ranked team in the Jerry Colangelo Classic.
“Our guys were ready to go,” Dayton coach Anthony Grant said. “They were excited about being here. They were excited about the competition. So we’re excited to get the win.”
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Turnovers continue to be the one weak spot for Dayton. It committed 16 against Saint Mary’s and has had double-figure turnovers in every game. The Flyers committed three turnovers during Saint Mary’s 16-2 run.
“Some of it was self-inflicted in terms of what we didn’t do,” Grant said.
“We know basketball is a game of runs,” Landers said. “Saint Mary’s is a very good team. When you have a team like that that’s down, it’s called playing desperate. They want to drive the ball, get you in foul trouble and shoot 3s. They hit a lot of big shots. We anticipated that a little bit. Our biggest thing was coming back after that four-minute war and locking in defensively, which helped us win down the stretch.”
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