Dayton ‘on the right path’ in A-10 race after 2-0 week at UD Arena

Flyers face big game at Rhode Island on Monday after victory against George Washington

Twice in one week, fans in the Red Scare student section at UD Arena chanted “More than double!” as the Dayton Flyers doubled their opponents’ scores.

The Flyers built a 53-26 lead early in the second half en route to a 75-54 victory against Duquesne on Wednesday, and they duplicated their dominance Saturday, building a 48-23 halftime lead and coasting to an 80-54 victory against George Washington.

Dayton (17-8, 9-3) put its best two shooting performances of the season together in back-to-back games and, in doing so, kept itself in contention for the Atlantic 10 Conference regular-season championship. Davidson (20-4, 10-2) saw a four-game winning streak end and lost 72-65 at Rhode Island on Saturday. That means the Flyers trail the A-10 leaders by one game with six to play.

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“We pay attention (to the standings),” forward Toumani Camara said. “That’s our goal. We’re trying to win championships. We’re really determined to do that, and we pay attention to other teams, but we really need to focus on ourselves and on trying to finish off conference play really strong. I think we’re on the right path.”

Dayton’s place in the standings will have to survive its own trip to Rhode Island (13-10, 4-7). The team’s flight departs at 6:30 p.m. Sunday, just as Super Bowl LVI is starting. The Flyers, who won the first matchup 55-53 on Jan. 28 at UD Arena, play the the Rams at 9 p.m. Monday.

If Dayton’s offense continues to operate at such a high level, it will be a hard team to beat, even on the road. The Flyers shot 70.4% percent (19 of 27) from the field and 72.7% (8 of 11) from 3-point range in the first half. They finished 62.3% (33 of 53) from the field and a season-best 62.5% percent (10 of 16) from 3-point range.

Dayton shot a season-best 60% from the field in the victory against Duquesne. This is the first time since December 2018, when the opponents were Western Michigan and Presbyterian, Dayton has shot 60 percent or better in back-to-back games.

“I think in the first half we did really great job,” Camara said. “We were on top of all that stuff. We followed the game plan. We trusted each other. We had 17 assists on 19 made field goals, so that was huge for us. We need to be able to do that for a full game. We’re young and learning still, but we did a great job today coming out and being able to play hard from the jump.”

Dayton scored a season-high 48 points in the first half.

“It was great to see the ball movement, the extra passing, the intensity,” Dayton coach Anthony Grant said. “The defense leading to offense gave us a nice little cushion.”

Kobe Elvis led Dayton with 13 points on 6-of-9 shooting. Four other players reached double figures: Camara and DaRon Holmes II (12 each); and R.J. Blakney (11).

Malachi Smith, who scored five points, had eight of his nine assists in the first half.

“Offensively, we haven’t really been sharp,” Smith said, “but these past two games at home we finally got comfortable with the offense, and we performed better, sharing the ball, so I feel these two games will help going into Rhode Island with a quick turnaround.”

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Dayton led by as many as 29 points with 7:53 left in the second half. It rested its starters for the final minutes. No one played more than 27 minutes.

Dayton completed a season sweep of George Washington (9-14, 5-6) and extended its winning streak against the Colonials at UD Arena to 10 games. George Washington hasn’t won in Dayton since 2005.

Dayton beat George Washington 83-58 on Jan. 8 in Washington, D.C. The Colonials lost their next game 84-57 to Virginia Commonwealth but had played much better in recent weeks, going 5-3 since the 0-2 start in A-10 play and not losing a game by more than 13 points.

Dayton held the A-10′s leading scorer, James Bishop, to 10 points on 4-of-13 shooting. He had scored 24 or more points in the last five games and had been averaging 20.6 points in conference games.

Dayton also held George Washington to 38.2% shooting (21 of 55) from the field and 25% shooting (6 of 24) from 3-point range. GW had shot 40 percent or better from the field in eight straight games. This was the ninth time in 23 games it has shot worse than 30 percent from 3-point range.

“I thought our guys did a great job tonight of understanding from a defensive standpoint what we needed to be able to take away from GW,” Grant said. “They’ve got two of the more explosive offensive guys in the league, and our guys were able to take advantage of this building, of this opportunity, and make the most of it.”

MONDAY’S GAME

Dayton at Rhode Island, 9 p.m., CBS Sports Network, 1290, 95.7

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