The Flyers trailed by as many as 16 points in the first half but got back in the game with a 10-2 run to end the first half. They pulled ahead for good at the 13:06 mark of the second half. Kyle Davis sealed the victory at the free-throw line in the final seconds after some tense moments. Scoochie Smith and Charles Cooke both missed free throws that could have clinched the victory earlier.
“Certainly, it’s a terrific win for our team,” Dayton coach Archie Miller said. “To come down here and play that caliber of team, I thought we prepared well. I thought our guys were ready to play. There were a couple moments in this game where I thought we could have went away.”
As Vanderbilt (6-3) stretched its lead with a 12-0 run in the first half, the game started to look like the Xavier game on Nov. 29. The Flyers trailed by eight at halftime in that one, but the game spun out of control, and they lost 90-61.
“Tonight was a little bit different,” Miller said. “I thought the end of the first half was really important. It gave us some confidence at halftime. Once we got the offense in front of our bench, it was a little easier to control it. Some guys got some baskets to go in, and we had some confidence.”
Kendall Pollard led the Flyers with 21 points on 7-of-10 shooting. Smith added 13 points and had four assists.
Steve McElvene had 10 points and nine rebounds and managed to stay out of foul trouble until the final minutes as he battled two 7-footers. Vanderbilt big man Damian Jones had 18 points and eight rebounds. Josh Henderson, the other 7-footer, had four points and two rebounds. Vanderbilt’s third 7-footer, Luke Kornet, missed the game with a foot injury and is expected to miss four to six weeks.
This is Dayton’s third victory this season against a team from the so-called power conferences. They have beaten Alabama, Iowa and now Vanderbilt. Dayton beat Vanderbilt for the first time after four losses.
Dayton opened the second half on a 13-2 run, taking a 45-44 lead on a jump shot by Cooke at the 15:29 mark of the second half. Vanderbilt pulled back in front at 47-45 after a 3-point play by Damian Jones.
Five points in a three-minute span by Pollard gave Dayton a 52-47 lead at the 12:07 mark.
UD trailed 40-32 at halftime. It could have been worse.
Vanderbilt broke open a close game with a 12-0 run beginning at the 5:21 mark. The Commodores led 38-22 with 3:03 to play.
Dayton responded with a 10-2 run to end the half. Darrell Davis led the spurt, scoring eight points in a two-minute span. Twice he stole the ball and converted it into a layup.
Smith ended the half with another steal. Vanderbilt fouled him, and he made both shots.
Pollard got the Flyers going early, scoring seven points in the first six minutes. The Flyers led 11-9 but trailed the rest of the first half.