Dayton Flyers hold off gritty Bonnies

Dayton overcame a 15-point first-half deficit and hung on for a 76-72 victory over gritty St. Bonaventure at UD Arena on Saturday afternoon.

Scoochie Smith had 19 points, Kendall Pollard 16 and Charles Cooke 13 as the Flyers improved to 21-5 overall and remained in a first-place tie in the Atlantic 10 with VCU at 12-2. Every other team in the conference has at least five losses.

Trailing 34-28 going into the second half, the Flyers put together an 11-1 surge to take their first lead since the opening minutes.

Xeyrius Williams drove and scored to start the run. On the next possession, the refs called a technical on Bonnies forward Josh Ayeni, who kept scrapping for a loose ball with Cooke after the whistle.

Darrell Davis made one of two foul shots, and UD got the ball, which was a break because it would have belonged to St. Bonaventure since it had the possession arrow in its favor.

Pollard converted a three-point play to tie it 34. He left the game later due to concussion protocol after taking an elbow to the head.

Two free throws by Smith gave Dayton a 36-35 edge with 17 minutes left.

After starting 9-for-15 from the field, the Bonnies made only five of their next 18 shots. But they regained the lead at 43-42 with 12:15 left.

That’s when Kyle Davis made a major impact, scoring on back-to-back transition drives. He was fouled on the second and converted the three-point play for a 47-43 edge with just under 11 minutes left.

The Flyers, who have won 12 straight home games, stretched the lead to 51-44 on a drive by Smith with 9:34 left.

The Bonnies (16-10, 8-6), who were led by Jaylen Adams’ 35 points, managed to get within one but never caught up after that.

The Flyers had trouble solving the St. Bonaventure zone in the first half. They started 2-for-9 from the field and committed four turnovers in the first 10 minutes.

Back-to-back 3-pointers pushed the Bonnies’ lead to 26-11 with 7:20 to go before the break.

But the Flyers generated some transition offense to get back in the game. Smith and Williams hit 3-pointers in a 9-0 run as UD cut the gap to a manageable six points at halftime.

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