Dayton continues to roll as they pick up their eighth straight victory against the Saint Louis Billikens, 61-45. The Flyers, despite only making four 3-pointers, battled in the interior against a much taller Saint Louis University basketball team scoring 26 points in the paint thanks to great ball movement around the perimeter and 20 points by Flyers forward Kendall Pollard.
Saint Louis loses its fourth Atlantic 10 conference game, they did not lose four conference games last season. The young Bills struggled against the intensity and aggressiveness of the Flyers. Also, the team struggled to make foul shots, going 5-15 from the line. SLU only got 2 points from its leading scorer forward Milik Yarbrough.
The Flyers, after suspending two of its players, have seen increased production from guard Jordan Sibert and forward Dyshawn Pierre which has been key in their winning streak. Sibert had 18 points and Pierre had 10 points in the victory against Saint Louis.
Initially, it seemed like the game was going to be a runaway by the Flyers. Dayton opened the game scoring 9 straight points. The Flyers were aggressive moving the ball around the arc until they decided to drive into the lane getting easy buckets as they confused SLU in their defensive rotation. The Flyer guards found forward Kendall Pollard for some easy buckets near in the basket.
Saint Louis struggled to get going offensively. It looked like the opening of the Davidson game when SLU was blown out by the Davidson Wildcats. It took 5 minutes for SLU to get on the board until they finally got their first points on an Achraf Yacoubou 3-pointer. Despite the early struggles, Saint Louis would keep it close in the first half due to good defense and 3-point shooting.
Defense was excellent on both sides of the court. Dayton forced 5 SLU turnovers in the opening 8 minutes of the game. However, SLU’s defense locked down as they forced turnovers and forced Dayton to take numerous contested shots later in the first half. Dayton shot 2 of 11 from the field during the final few minutes of the first half. As Dayton struggled to make a shot, SLU struggled as well, but was able to make 3-pointers.
SLU’s 3-point shooting was a major reason they were able to stay in the game. Despite the fact only three Billiken players scored in the first half, they made five 3-pointers and two key makes by freshman guard Marcus Bartley to cut the lead down. Yet, SLU was unable to score in the paint. They had some chances but struggled to finish around the rim.
The Flyers, despite a height disadvantage, held a double-digit advantage for points in the paint in the first half.The Flyers had a strength advantage against this young Billikens team. However, Dayton was 1 of 10 from the 3-point range in the first half. This caused the Flyers to only have a 5 point advantage going into halftime.
SLU scored five straight points to tie the game in the second half, but UD guard Jordan Sibert responded with a quick 3-pointer to reclaim the lead for the Flyers. After that, Dayton held and increased their lead from that point forward.
Dayton went back to their strategy on moving the ball around the perimeter confusing the young Bills team and were able to slash and cut their way to the bucket to make easy buckets. The Flyers found Pollard for some easy buckets. Pollard battled inside against the Billiken forwards to get some buckets in the post as well.
Another factor that helped the Flyers in the second half was Sibert who scored 11 of his 18 points in that half. Sibert made some 3-pointers that made the Billikens respect the outside shot and continue to have defensive breakdowns. Saint Louis would come over to help their teammates, but Dayton would kick it out of the lane to wide open 3-point shooters.
These factors allowed the Flyers to go on a 14-2 run midway through the second half. SLU missed 6 straight free throws during this Flyer run that could have kept the game in single-digits, but this run allowed the Flyers to put the game away. The young Bills team could not keep their momentum and had numerous mistakes on both ends of the floor.
Dayton will go on the road to play the Davidson Wildcats on Tuesday Jan. 20th at 7:30 p.m. eastern time. Saint Louis will return home to play the Virginia Commonwealth Rams on Friday Jan. 23rd at 7 p.m. eastern time.