» NOTES: First-half performance by Elvis key
Smith was named MVP of the tournament. He had 10 points and six assists in the championship game and averaged 11.3 points and 6.3 assists in the tournament. He’s the first Dayton freshman to win an MVP award at an in-season tournament since Roosevelt Chapman, who was MVP of the Dayton Invitational in 1980.
“I just want to win,” Smith said. “It doesn’t matter to me about stats. I try to leave it all on the floor. Coming off those three games, it was raw. I’m a sore loser, so those three games were rough. We were hungry to get a win, and bring up that trophy felt good.”
WATCH: Dayton Flyers celebrate ESPN Events Invitational championship on Nov. 28, 2021
Dayton (4-3) led Belmont (5-3) for all but 2 minutes, 50 seconds. The Flyers had a 54-45 lead with 7:56 to go after a 3-pointer by Lynn Greer III. Then the Bruins ran off eight straight points, cutting Dayton’s lead to 54-53 at the 4:38 mark.
Dayton did just enough in the final four minutes to preserve the lead. A 3-point play by Toumani Camara, who had nine points, with 4:06 remaining stopped the run. A putback by DaRon Holmes II, who led Dayton with 11 points, and two free throws by Smith in the final minutes helped secure the victory.
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Holmes blocked six shots, tying the school record for the second time this season. He had the job of guarding Belmont’s top scorer, Nick Muszynski, for most of the night. Musznyski scored 23 points on 10-of-16 shooting but might have had more if not for Holmes.
Dayton also won the game by making 7 of 18 3-pointers (38.9 percent), while Belmont made 6 of 22 (27.3 percent).
“That was a heck of a championship game,” Dayton coach Anthony Grant said. “Hat’s off to Belmont. They’ve got a terrific team. They battle. They gave us all we wanted. I thought it was a really good college basketball game. I’m extremely proud of our group. They showed a lot of resiliency, a lot of toughness, all the way through. It’s great they were able to be rewarded today with a championship in this tournament. We’re excited about that.”
Alabama State at Dayton, 7 p.m., ESPN+, 1290, 95.7
WATCH: Kobe Elvis scores 10 points in first half for Dayton vs. Belmont on Nov. 28, 2021