DAYTON, Ohio (AP)—Dayton’s defensive pressure was too much for St. Joseph’s to overcome.
Brooks Hall scored 13 points and had nine rebounds to lead Dayton to a 66-56 victory over No. 25 St. Joseph’s on Saturday.
“I was really surprised by how well they guarded, and it shows in the stats,” St. Joseph’s coach Phil Martelli said. “They played incredible on defense.”
Delonte West scored 26 points to lead St. Joseph’s come-from-behind effort in the second half that fell short. The Flyers have won 14 of their last 16 games and are 13-0 at home.
Neither team shot well. Dayton (18-4, 10-1 Atlantic 10) shot 35 percent from the floor, only slightly better than the 32 percent managed by St. Joseph’s (18-4, 8-3).
“We defended and rebounded most of the game,” said Dayton coach Oliver Purnell, who won his 250th game. “We did a good job on their perimeter players.”
St. Joseph’s pressed much of the game, but Dayton had little trouble with it. The Flyers’ tight man-to-man defense kept St. Joseph’s from getting many good looks at the basket. And Dayton won the battle of the boards, outrebounding the Hawks 44-32.
The Flyers also used a balanced attack, with four players in double figures. Sean Finn and Ramod Marshall each had 12 points, and Keith Waleskowski added 10.
“Teams can’t focus on just one player against us,” Marshall said. “It gives us a lot of options and gives opposing defenses a lot of challenges. We just do a good job sharing the basketball, and we play so well at home.”
The Flyers have won 14 of their last 16 games and are 13-0 at home. They are 3-0 against Top 25 teams at home, defeating Cincinnati and Marquette earlier this season.
With 15 minutes left and Dayton leading 34-26, the Flyers scored eight unanswered points. Three-pointers by Hall, Marshall and a lay-in basket by Finn gave Dayton a 16-point lead.
With Dayton leading 51-37, St. Joseph’s point guard Jameer Nelson was taken to the locker room after falling out of bounds under the Flyers’ basket and hurting his elbow.
That’s when West caught fire. He hit two free throws and then three straight baskets to cut the Flyers’ lead to 52-45.
But the Hawks began to pick up fouls, allowing Dayton to hold off the comeback by converting at the free-throw line. Even though Nelson returned at 3:37 and finished with 16 points, it wasn’t enough.
In the first half, Dayton took a 27-13 lead with the help of 3-point baskets by Marshall and D.J. Stelly, but the Hawks pulled to 30-22 at halftime.
“I just got done telling our players that today was the first time all year we’ve been ‘beaten,”’ Martelli said. “Dayton was better coached, was the better team and played with more ferociousness.”