DAYTON, OH (WDTN) -
The University of Dayton Flyers men’s basketball team closed the non-conference portion of the schedule with a 78-71 win over the UAB Blazers on Saturday night at UD Arena. The Flyers improved to 10-4 on the season and have won at least 10 non-conference games for the last seven seasons. The Blazers fell to 8-7.
Josh Benson scored a season-high 20 points and hauled in eight rebounds as four Flyers scored in double figures. Vee Sanford netted 19 points on a career-high five three-pointers (5-of-7 overall from beyond the arc). Kevin Dillard recorded his second double-double in the last three games with 14 points and 10 assists, and Devin Oliver chipped in 11 points and six rebounds.
UD got out to a hot start as the Flyers took a 9-4 lead after a Sanford scoop shot went in with 17:00 minutes left in the first half. UAB center Fahro Alihodzic converted back-to-back lay-ins to cut the Dayton lead to 10-8 with 15:49 remaining until halftime.
Jordan Swing drilled a three to cut the Flyer lead to just one, 22-21, with 9:13 left in the first half, but UD responded with a 11-5 run after a Dillard three to push the lead to 33-26 with 6:17 remaining in the first half. However, UAB countered with a 9-3 run to cut the lead again to one, 36-35, after a jumper by Rod Rucker found the bottom of the net with 2:39 left until halftime. UD answered with an 8-0 run to close the half as the teams headed to the locker room with the Flyers leading 44-35.
A 5-2 UAB run out of the half cut the Dayton lead to 46-40 with 18:21 left in the game. But Benson scored the first six UD points in the second half and the Flyers pushed their lead to 53-40 with 13:20 left after a Sanford three. Sanford converted on his first four three-point attempts.
A lay-in by Benson gave UD its biggest lead of the game, 61-45, with 10:33 left. However, the Flyers went cold as they went on a stretch of seven minutes and 10 seconds without a field goal. UD scored just three points from the foul line during that stretch as they saw the lead dwindle to 64-59 with 3:54 left in the game. UAB went on a 14-3 run during that seven-minute and 10 second stretch. An Oliver put-back off of his own miss gave UD a 66-59 lead with 3:13 left in the contest.
A Jordan Swing jumper cut the Flyer lead to 66-61 with 2:46 left. UD answered with big three-pointers from Sanford and Khari Price (both on assists by Dillard) to push the UD lead to 72-61 with 1:23 left and extinguish the UAB threat. Dillard made six straight free throws in the game’s final 34 seconds to clinch the win. Dillard is 22 of 24 from the line in the last two games.
Overall, Dayton shot 42.1% (24-of-57) from the field while UAB shot 40.0% (26-of-65). The Flyers held UAB to just 30.6% (11-of-36) from the field in the second half. UD only coughed up the ball eight times while forcing 12 Blazer turnovers. The UD bench outscored the UAB bench 14-6, and Dayton had 32 points in the paint compared to UAB’s 28.
The Flyers will start Atlantic 10 Conference play on the road against the VCU Rams on Wednesday Jan. 9. Tip-off scheduled for 7 p.m. ET.