DAYTON, Ohio (AP)—Dayton’s first game as a ranked team went a little longer than the Flyers expected.
Back in the Top 25 after a four-year drought, No. 20 Dayton needed two overtimes to beat Akron 83-81 on Wednesday night.
“We played good defense in the second half, and we kind of just figured out a way to win,” Dayton coach Brian Gregory said. “Hats off to Akron. It took us every bit of energy to come out with the win.”
The Flyers (12-1) extended their winning streak to 11 games.
London Warren scored six points in the second overtime, including a big free throw, to lead Dayton. With four seconds remaining, Warren hit a free throw to give the Flyers an 82-79 lead.
Kurt Huelsman led the Flyers with a career-high 18 points, while Brian Roberts added 17 and Marcus Johnson 16.
Jeremiah Wood led the Zips (10-3) with 21 points, while Nick Dials had 19.
“They tried to go for our jugular, and we fought back,” Akron coach Keith Dambrot said. “I can’t complain with our guys. We competed hard. That’s all you can ever ask. I think our team showed we can play with any team in the country.”
Warren scored two quick baskets in the second overtime. With Dayton leading 81-79 and six seconds left, Dials missed a 3-point attempt. Warren got the rebound and was fouled by Steve McNees.
After Warren hit the free throw to make it 82-79, Johnson fouled Dials with three seconds remaining. Dials hit the first and missed the second on purpose in hopes of getting the rebound, but failed to hit the rim, giving the Flyers the ball.
Dayton inbounded to Huelsman at midcourt, and he was fouled by Quade Milum with two seconds remaining. Huelsman hit one of two free throws to give Dayton an 83-80 lead, but Charles Little fouled Dials with 0.2 seconds left.
Dials hit the first, but the second bounced high off the back of the rim, and time ran out.
Dayton pounded the ball inside over and over, slipping it to the 6-foot-10 Huelsman who used his body to back into and over Wood.
“It was a good physical game,” Huelsman said. “There were a lot of big bodies in there at all times, and the refs did let us play.”
Roberts had been averaging 19.3 points and had 31 points Saturday when the Flyers upset then-No. 6 Pittsburgh. But Akron put a suffocating defense on him, often double-teaming him and holding him to three points in the first half.
Roberts also got into early foul trouble, picking up his second at 13:10 of the first half and went to the bench for 10 minutes.
Akron’s pesky defense disrupted Dayton’s rhythm and kept the Flyers out of sync for much of the game. The Zips, who led 33-27 at halftime, had eight steals and seven blocked shots for the game.
“We didn’t play very well in the first 20 minutes, and give Akron credit,” Gregory said. “They were the ones who kind of scrapped and clawed and played the way we play. But in the second half, our defense got us back into it.”
Dayton got out to an 8-2 lead in the first half, but Akron scored eight unanswered points, and a seesaw battle was on. With Dayton leading 27-25, the Zips scored the next eight points, including a layup by Milum at the buzzer that gave Akron a 33-27 lead.
Dayton stormed back in the second half led by Huelsman and Jimmie Binnie, who finished with a career-high 14 points. Johnson, who had 16 points, scored six of the Flyers’ eight points in the first overtime.