ORLANDO – The University of Dayton men’s basketball team won the 2021 ESPN Events Invitational Sunday, by holding off Belmont by a score of 63-61.
The Flyers improve to 4-3 on the season while the Bruins fall to 5-3.
The Flyers were led by freshman DaRon Holmes II who had 11 points, a career high 10 rebounds, and tied the UD single-game record with six blocked shots. Holmes II was joined by freshman Malachi Smith and redshirt freshman Kobe Elvis who each had 10.
Smith was named MVP of the ESPN Events Invitational at the conclusion of the game. Throughout the weekend Smith averaged 11 points, six rebounds, six assist and two steals a game while shooting 58%, and his making both ends of the one-and-one with 16 seconds left proved to be the Flyer’s winning margin.
1st Half: Dayton 31, Belmont 27
· Malachi Smith opened the match strong for the Flyers making the team’s first two shots and assisting on the third.
· Both teams exchanged baskets early as Dayton led 10-9, seven minutes into the contest.
· Immediately after checking into the contest, the hero from the previous game, Mustapha Amzil hit a three to put the Flyers up four.
· Kobe Elvis hit back-to-back threes to put the Flyers up 21-18. Belmont’s scoring also increased as the Bruins made five field goals in a row.
· Elvis continued his offense accounting for 10 straight points then assisting a Koby Brea three that gave Dayton a 26-22 lead with 3:42 remaining.
· Dayton shot 5-10 (50%) from three during the half while Belmont shot 25%.
· Elvis led the way for Dayton in the half with 10 points and two assist while Brea had six points.
· The Flyers bench accounted for 19 of the 31 points in the half.
2nd Half: Dayton 63, Belmont 61
· The Flyers extended their lead to 42-34 via an 8-0 run that featured two made 3-pointers by Elijah Weaver. The Flyers forced four Bruin turnovers during the stretch.
· The Bruins used a pair of three pointers to bring the Dayton lead to 48-42 with 12:00 remaining in the contest.
· Belmont used a 6-0 run to trim the Flyer lead to three at 54-51 with 4:58 left to play.
· Following five straight points by Toumani Camara Dayton led 59-55 with 2:30 remaining.
· Holmes II hit a put-back basket following a missed shot to give the Flyers their first bucket in nearly three minutes.
· Smith hit the pair of free throws with 16 seconds left and then recorded a steal in the final minute to seal the win for Dayton (Note: He was not credited with the steal in the official stats).
· Holmes II had two of his six total blocks in the final two minutes.
INSIDE THE NUMBERS
· Three Flyers hit double digits — DaRon Holmes II (11), Malachi Smith (10), and Kobe Elvis (10).
· With his career high 10 rebounds, this is Holmes II’s first collegiate double-double.
· The Flyers assisted on 17 of the 26 field goals. Smith had six assist and Elvis had three.
· The Flyers had 25 bench points compared to Belmont’s 10.
· Dayton shot 39% from three while Belmont shot 27%.
· UD saw a balanced scoring attack with nine Flyers scoring and seven players registering at least five points.
· This was Dayton’s first exempt tournament championship since winning the same event in 2011 (when it was known as the Old Spice Classic)
· Dayton joins Gonzaga as the only two schools to win the ESPN Events Invitational multiple times.
· The last Flyer freshman to earn most valuable player honors at an in-season tournament was Roosevelt Chapman, who was the MVP of the 1980 University of Dayton Invitational Tournament (UDIT).
· UD is back home on Wednesday against Alabama A&M. Game time is 7 p.m. ET.