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Feb 5, 2024 12:28 am

No. 21 Dayton ready for road challenge vs. Saint Joseph’s

Holmes Dayton

No. 21 Dayton is in prime position to return to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2017.

Winners of 15 of their past 16 games, the Flyers look to avoid an upset bid when they travel to Philadelphia on Tuesday for a meeting with red-hot Saint Joseph’s.

On Friday, Dayton (18-3, 8-1 Atlantic 10) picked up a come-from-behind 76-71 home win over St. Bonaventure, riding the shoulders of Wooden Award Top 20 Watch List member DaRon Holmes II.

The junior tied his career high with 34 points, while shooting 10-of-15 from the floor and 13-for-17 on free-throw attempts. He also grabbed seven rebounds and blocked four shots.

Holmes raised his scoring average to 20 points per game, topping the conference leaderboard.

“DaRon has the ability to draw a lot of attention,” Dayton coach Anthony Grant said. “He’s seen a lot of different coverages all year. I thought our team did a great job of getting him the basketball, and I thought he did a good job of making himself available.”

Holmes’ backup, Isaac Jack, was efficient in 11 minutes off the bench. The Buffalo transfer collected eight points and six rebounds on 3-for-3 shooting from the floor.

Jack is 34-for-44 (77.3 percent) from the floor this season.

“(Isaac) gave us some great minutes,” Grant said. “He was huge in a lot of ways. When DaRon picked up his third foul, we wanted to make sure we could have him available down the stretch. Isaac came in and gave us really valuable minutes on both sides of the court.”

Following Holmes among Dayton’s scoring leaders are Nate Santos (11.2 ppg) and Koby Brea (10.8 ppg). Brea is connecting on 48 percent of his 3-pointers this season, best in Division I.

Saint Joseph’s (15-7, 5-4) enters Tuesday winners of four of its last five in A-10 play.

The Hawks rallied from an eight-point deficit with less than eight minutes left for an 88-82 win at crosstown rival La Salle on Saturday.

Erik Reynolds II led the way with 21 points, followed by Ryan Fleming’s 17 as Saint Joseph’s scored 50 points in the second half.

Saint Joseph’s head coach Billy Lange is enjoying his first winning campaign since taking over prior to the 2019-20 season.

Lange has become accustomed to the battles of conference play. Now, he’s finally seeing his group come away unscathed.

“The A-10 is loaded with good players,” Lange said. “It’s a really good league that deserves a lot of recognition. To have a victory like this was impressive. To do it the way we did it was even more impressive.”

Lange’s teams have struggled in A-10 play, holding just a 23-52 mark. A home upset of the Flyers would help bring life back to a program that hasn’t appeared in a postseason tournament since 2016.

Reynolds leads the Hawks with 17.9 points per contest (fourth in A-10), followed by former Dayton guard Lynn Greer III (11.6).

Dayton scored a pair of wins over the Hawks last season, including a 60-54 victory in the A-10 Tournament quarterfinals.

–Field Level Media

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