Jan. 17—One Saint Louis University fan wrote SLU on the belly of another fan behind the Billikens bench before the game Tuesday at UD Arena.
Judging by the vibe on social media, many Saint Louis fans — but not these two, who also painted their faces and wore shiny clothes — don't have much stomach left for this season, but their team put a scare into the Dayton Flyers in UD's first game as a ranked team this season.
No. 21 Dayton trailed 30-28 at halftime but pulled in front early in the second half and then rode their star DaRon Holmes II, who scored 25 of his 29 points in the second half, to a 70-65 victory.
"It was pretty difficult," Holmes said. "We have to come in with the same mentality every game and play our version of basketball. In the first half, we kind of slipped, but we had a good locker-room talk, figured it out in the second half, went back out there and played our butts off."
Here are three takeaways from Dayton's 16th game:
1. A rare roll continues: Dayton (14-2, 4-0) has won 11 straight games. It continues to chase the 20-game streak of 2019-20. This is Dayton's third-longest winning streak in this century and its 12th winning streak of 11 games or more since 1950. Dayton also has the fourth-longest active winning streak in the country.
Saint Louis (8-9, 1-3) lost its 10th straight game at UD Arena and dropped to 0-8 in Dayton in coach Travis Ford's eight seasons. The Billikens fell into a tie for 11th place, while Dayton remained tied for first place with Richmond (12-5, 8-0), which won 63-61 at Duquesne on Tuesday.
"This was just a really, really good A-10 basketball game," Dayton coach Anthony Grant said. "This is a hard league."
Saint Louis lost its 18th straight game against a ranked opponent. Its last win came against No. 25 Virginia Commonwealth in the 2013 A-10 championship game.
2. Dayton found a way to take control in the second half: Saint Louis overcame an early 17-9 deficit with a 14-0 run and led by as many as six points in the first half. Dayton trailed 30-28 at halftime after a basket by Nate Santos in the final minute.
In the second half, Dayton took the lead for good at the 15:57 mark on two free throws by Kobe Elvis, who set a new school record by making 37 straight free throws before missing his 38th. The Flyers pushed their lead to 11 points with five minutes to play and didn't let Saint Louis get any closer than five points after that point.
The Flyers shot 28.6% from 3-point range (8 of 28), their third-worst performance of the season. They made 5 of 18 in the first half and 3 of 10 in the second half. They still rank 10th in the nation in 3-point shooting percentage (39.5) despite shooting 33% in four A-10 games.
"Travis does a really good job of having his guys prepared," Grant said. "They've been injured a lot this year. They were fully healthy. Sincere Parker was available. They were deep. I thought they did a really good job in the first half. We got really good looks. It was one of those nights where shots didn't fall for us. We had a little bit of a lead. They went on a run. During that time, I felt like we kind of got out of sorts, but our guys did a great job to close the half and a great job in the second half and showed great competitive character to do the things that we need to do on both sides of the ball."
3. Dayton's defense limited Gibson Jimerson: Saint Louis's top scorer on this season had 13 points on 5-of-16 shooting. He made two 3-pointers in the final three minutes as Dayton tried to protect its lead.
Jimerson scored 27 points and made 7 of 11 3-pointers in the team's previous game against Saint Joseph's. He was averaging 17.2 points per game entering the contest.
Dayton guard Kobe Elvis drew the job of guarding Jimerson for most of the night.
"I tried to make him work for every every shot really," Elvis said. "Jimerson's a tremendous player. Coach wanted to focus on taking him away because that throws them out of their rhythm."
STAR OF THE GAME
Dayton forward DaRon Holmes II followed up his season-best 33-point performance in a 72-62 victory Friday at Duquesne by scoring 29 on 9-of-13 shooting. He 10 of 17 free throws. He scored 16 points in the last six minutes. That included seven points in a one-minute span that saw Dayton extend a 51-47 lead to 58-47 at the 5:06 mark.
Holmes improved his season scoring average to 19.4 points per game. He's averaging 24.5 points in A-10 play.
STAT OF THE GAME
Dayton made 16 of 29 free throws, while Saint Louis made 3 of 7. Billikens committed 19 fouls to Dayton's 11. Saint Louis had not shot fewer than 10 free throws in a game this season and made 22 of 27 in an 88-85 victory against Saint Joseph's in its previous game.
Dayton plays Rhode Island (9-7, 3-0) at 12:30 p.m. Saturday at UD Arena. It will be the first game former Dayton coach Archie Miller has coached at UD Arena since his final season with the Flyers in 2017.
Rhode Island beat Saint Joseph's, Davidson and Massachusetts to start A-10 play. It plays at St. Bonaventure (10-5, 1-2) on Wednesday.
Dayton lost 75-70 at Rhode Island last season. In its last visit to UD Arena, Rhode Island lost 53-51 in 2022.
Rhode Island at Dayton, 12:30 p.m., USA Network, 1290, 95.7