After having their six-game win streak end with a blowout loss to Saint Joseph’s, the Dayton Flyers got back on track with an 86-79 win over UMass on Saturday. Wednesday night provided Archie Miller’s team with another opportunity to enhance their resume and the Flyers took advantage, beating No. 17 Saint Louis 72-67 at Chaifetz Arena. With the NCAA tournament bubble seemingly changing by the hour at this point in the season it’s tough to say that this result sews up a bid for Dayton, but it certainly helps their case.
A key for Dayton, especially in the second half, was the play of their reserves. For the night the Flyer reserves outscored Saint Louis’ by a margin of 31-14, and that was one area in which Dayton would make up a ten-point disadvantage at the foul line. Jalen Robinson scored all ten of his points in the second half, joining starters Jordan Sibert and Dyshawn Pierre in double figures, and as a team Dayton held a 16-2 edge in bench points in the final 20 minutes.
Just as important in the second half was the defensive effort put forth by Dayton. Both teams turned the ball over nine times in the second half, but Dayton did a better job of challenging shots as they limited the Billikens to 42.9% shooting from the field and 2-for-9 from beyond the arc. As a result, SLU scored just 0.8 points per possession in the second half. By comparison, Dayton shot 50% from the field and scored 1.14 points per possession.
Entering Wednesday the Flyers hadn’t set themselves apart from the pack conference play defensively, ranking ninth in both field goal (45.2%) and three-point percentage (37.5%). But Dayton defended better against a Saint Louis team that’s now lost three straight games, and their execution during a critical 24-9 second half run made the difference for a team in need of another quality win.
How much work is there left for Dayton to do? With early-season wins over Gonzaga and California, the Flyers do have some solid results on the non-conference portion of their resume. And after going through a four-game losing streak that included losses to Richmond and Rhode Island, Dayton’s playing well at the right time.