Darrell Davis knocked down a 3-point shot with less than 30 seconds remaining to help Dayton survive a spirited upset bid Friday night by Rhode Island.
The Rams erased two eight-point leads by the Flyers twice to create a tight game down the stretch that required the heroics by Davis in the waning moments of the 68-66 win. The win pushed Dayton to 11-1 in the Atlantic-10 and secures the lead in the conference into the weekend.
That Rhode Island was able to push the Flyers to the brink shows how good this Rams team could have been if they hadn't been plagued by injuries all season. They have dealt with not only the loss of almost a guaranteed all-conference star in E.C. Matthews, but have been missing their tallest player in Kuran Iverson for several games until he was cleared to play Friday.
You can also count when Hassan Martin went down against Old Dominion with an ankle injury and probably would have made the difference in a 6-point loss to the Monarchs.
So it has been a struggle for the Rams, who were picked to finish second in the conference at the beginning of the year. But that struggle was difficult to see in this loss.
Martin had 15 points and 10 rebounds and was huge on the offensive glass down the stretch as the Rams closed in on Dayton. Four McGlynn did what he does best, landing five 3-point shots, and finishing with 19 points.
But Dayton was just too much, and it was thanks to a tough defensive effort that allowed them to build those two leads that required so much effort from the Rams to erase. The Flyers finished with seven steals and five blocks in the win, and while they allowed one of the better shooting performances of the year by an opponent, they made up for it with a strong shooting performance of their own.
The Flyers shot 52 percent from the floor, and were led by Dyshawn Pierre with 17 points. Dayton was uncharacteristically loose with the ball, turning it over 18 times, but made the most of their opportunities on the offensive end when they didn't.
Outside of the conference lead that will last at least one more game, the Flyers also helped cement their at-large chances should they not close out the ever-difficult A-10 tournament. Dayton is already projected as a No. 4 seed in the NCAA Tournament by Joe Lunardi at ESPN, and should have no trouble wearing the home jerseys for at least a game come March.
The Flyers have a big test coming against St. Joe's on Wednesday night that will determine who will hold that top spot in the league.