If there’s such a thing as a must-win for a team battling to stay out of last place, this was it for the Dayton Flyers.
A loss to Fordham, which had lost 13 straight games to Dayton and had never won at UD Arena, could have sent this season into the type of downward spiral not seen in Dayton for decades. Instead, the Flyers stuck to the script Saturday. They are a different team at home. If they never left UD Arena, they might have a NCAA tournament resume.
Dayton shot 64.4 percent from the field and overcame a dry spell in the final 10 minutes to beat Fordham 80-70.
“I’m obviously happy for our guys to be able to get the win today,” Dayton coach Anthony Grant said. “We knew coming in that we were going to see a lot of different looks defensively from Fordham and that we’d have to handle different levels of pressure, whether it be in the halfcourt with the man to man or the various zone combination man defenses that they play. I thought for the most part we did a good job until obviously we didn’t.”
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The Flyers (12-14, 6-8) distanced themselves from the basement of the Atlantic 10 Conference. With four games to play, they are tied with Duquesne and George Mason for eighth place. Fordham (9-17, 4-10) is tied for last with Massachusetts, a team that swept Dayton.
Dayton led 70-51 with 9:16 to play. Five minutes later, the lead was 72-68. In that stretch, the Flyers committed five turnovers.
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A layup by Davis at the 2:37 mark proved to be the biggest basket of the game. It gave Dayton a 75-68 lead. Trey Landers scored on the next possession to push the advantage to 77-68.
“With about nine minutes to go, I think we had about 2-1 assist-to-turnover ratio, and then the game kind of changed when we turned it over,” Grant said. “But I thought our guys finished strong and made some plays and got some defensive stops. Jordan Davis’ steal and finish on the other end was a huge play for us, a timely play for us. We were able to knock down some free throws at the end to sustain the win.”
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