Chants of “Let’s Go Flyers” rained down from the rafters at Rose Hill Gym. Scoochie Smith’s hometown cheering section created noise for the whole arena.
The Dayton Flyers made their cheers count, pulling away in the final minutes to avoid an upset and beat Fordham 75-66 on Tuesday. They moved back into a first-place tie with Richmond (13-8, 7-2).
Kendall Pollard led the Flyers with 25 points, hitting the 1,000-point milestone on a dunk off an assist from his fellow senior from Chicago, Kyle Davis, in the second half.
The Bronx native Smith scored below his average, 10 points, but made some big plays in the final minutes. He assisted Xeyrius Williams on the go-ahead layup with 5:26 to play. He assisted Charles Cooke on a basket to give UD a 68-64 lead with 2:52 to play. Smith made a jump shot with 2:02 to play to give the Flyers a 70-64 lead.
Dayton (16-5, 7-2) ended the game on a 16-6 run, overcoming a tremendous shooting night by Fordham, which made 9 of 17 3-pointers in the first half but only 2 of 8 in the second half.
Dayton led for most of the first half and surged ahead 39-30 with 2:14 to play. Then a hot-shooting Fordham team got hotter.
Fordham made 3-pointers on three of its next four possessions, tying the game at 39-39 at halftime. The Flyers allowed a total of 10 3-pointers in their four previous games against Duquesne, Richmond, Saint Louis and Virginia Commonwealth. None of those teams topped 15 percent from long range.
Dayton put up good offensive numbers in the first half and likely felt it should have had a sizable lead. The Flyers made 13 of 21 shots from the field (61.9 percent), 4 of 8 3-pointers and 9 of 10 free throws. They even out-rebounded Fordham 16-10.
However, turnovers hurt Dayton. The Flyers committed 11 turnovers to Fordham’s five in the first half, and Fordham’s 3-point shooting evened the score.
Pollard scored 11 points in the first half on 5-of-6 shooting. Charles Cooke scored eight and finished with 14. Chris Sengfelder was Fordham’s star, scoring 16 points and making 4-of-7 3-pointers. He finished with 21 points.
Around the A-10: Rhode Island (14-7, 6-3) beat George Washington 82-70, pulling away in the second half. Rhode Island is in fourth place. The eight-place Colonials fell to 12-10 and 4-5.
Davidson (12-8, 5-4) beat St. Joseph’s 75-60. The Hawks are 10-11 and 3-6.