Dayton Holds On 84-82

DAYTON, Ohio - Junior Brian Roberts tied a career-high with 34 points as the Dayton Flyers posted a thrilling 84-82 win over the La Salle Explorers. Roberts scored 15 of Dayton's final 18 points and went 7-of-8 from the foul line in the final minute of the game to seal the victory and keep UD unbeaten at home.

Roberts, who poured in 20 second half points, shot 9-of-14 from the field, 5-of-8 from three-point range and hit 11-of-12 free throws.

The Flyers, 12-4 overall, 2-1 Atlantic 10 shot 52 percent (26-of-50) from the field, including 50 percent (11-of-22) from behind the arc, and 62 percent in second half.

Junior Jimmy Binnie posted a season-high 10 points, while senior Monty Scott and junior Andres Sandoval each added nine.

Four players scored in double-figures for the Explorers, led by junior Darnell Harris with 22. La Salle shot 47 percent from the field and 81 percent from the foul line to keep the game close.

The Flyers are now 18-0 in the Brian Gregory era when scoring 75 points or more and winning in regulation.

Dayton's 11-0 record at UD Arena this season marks their best start at home since the 2002-03 team, which began 13-0 at home and went on to win the Atlantic 10.

La Salle opened the scoring on its first possession with a basket by freshman Yves Mekongo Mbala. Harris' three-pointer gave the Explorers a 5-0 lead before Scott scored UD's first bucket on a drive to the hoop.

Roberts, who was recognized in a pre-game ceremony for surpassing the 1,000 career point plateau on Jan. 7 against Rhode Island, tied the game at 5-5 with a three-pointer.

La Salle used a 10-2 run over the next 2:00 to open up to a 15-7 lead at the 15:07 mark. But Binnie produced instant offense off the bench for the Flyers by connecting on his first two shot attempts.

However, the Explorers three-point attack was relentless as they sank their first three attempts from behind the arc, and made 7-of-12 from the field to start the game. Dayton trailed, 22-15, with 10:32 to play in the half.

Freshman Kurt Huelsman connected on back-to-back shots in the lane to start a UD comeback. Roberts buried a three-pointer from the wing with 8:30 to play to pull Dayton to within one point at 24-23.

Harris knocked down a trey on La Salle's next possession, which was quickly answered by another triple from UD's Roberts with 7:29 left. Harris sank 4-of-5 three-point field goals to begin the game, while Roberts made each of his first four tries.

UD freshman London Warren then penetrated the lane and dished to Norman Plummer for an easy two. The bucket was part of a 7-0 Dayton run that gave the Flyers their first lead of the contest, 28-27, with five minutes to go. It turned out to be a lead the Flyers would not give back.

Warren's pressure defense forced a loose ball, which he picked up and passed down-court to a streaking Roberts for a reverse lay-in with 3:02 to play. The basket stretched Dayton's lead to 34-29.

The Explorers answered with a 5-0 run to tie the game, but Scott's trey with under a minute to go sent Dayton to the locker room with a 37-34 lead. Harris led all scorers with 15 at the break, while Roberts was tops for Dayton with 14.

The Explorers continued their three-point barrage to begin the second half. Mekongo Mbala knocked down a three on La Salle's first possession to tie the game at 37, and a pair of free throws from Harris put the Explorers back on top.

However, halftime did not cool off Roberts. The UD guard put Dayton back in the lead with 17:24 left with back-to-back jumpers. Charles Little, who was held scoreless in the first half, helped the Flyers to a 48-44 lead with a trio of baskets in the first five minutes of the half.

Scott and Sandoval then proved the UD's three-point success in the first half was no fluke. Scott buried a trey from the right wing, and Sandoval's triple from the top of the key on UD's next possession with 13:02 to play put Dayton up by seven, 54-47. The Flyers were 9-of-17 from beyond the arc for the game at that point.

Both teams stayed hot, as Binnie and La Salle's Ruben Guillandeaux traded jump shots. Another three from Binnie extended the UD lead to 59-52 with 11:44 to play, but the Explorers continued to shoot the ball well, also.

La Salle began the second half on 8-of-14 shooting, but Dayton's 10-of-14 shooting to open the half put them ahead, 64-57, with 9:13 left to play.

Back-to-back baskets by La Salle kept the Explorers within striking distance, as the lead was trimmed to three points, 64-61, with 6:35 remaining. Roberts scored eight consecutive points for the Flyers in the next 2:58 to push the lead to 72-66 with 3:22 left to play.

Impressive foul shooting by La Salle kept it close. The Explorers shot a blistering 25-31 from the line for the game, and Dayton led by just four points, 76-72, entering the final 1:30 of the contest.

UD continued to turn to Roberts with the game on the line. A pair of foul shots by Roberts brought the crowd to its feel with :31 to play, as the fans hoped UD could ice the game with a defensive stop. But La Salle's Rodney Green was fouled and sank two from the charity stripe as well.

Roberts was fouled again, and made one of two attempts (his only miss in eight tries in the game's final minute). Green quickly drove the length of the court for a lay-up, cutting the Dayton lead to 81-78 with :19 to play. Johnson made one free throw on Dayton's next possession to extend the lead to four.

Green again penetrated the lane, scored and was fouled with 10 seconds remaining. His free throw made it a one-point game, 82-81.

Roberts was fouled quickly following the inbounds pass, and toed the line with nine seconds. He hit both free-throws to give Dayton an 84-81 lead.

The Explorers could not get off a shot attempt before Green was fouled, and was sent to the line for two attempts with four seconds left. Green missed both shots, but the rebound went out of bounds in favor of La Salle.

The inbounds pass went to Harris, who fired up a three-point attempt with one second remaining. The shot was off the mark, but Harris was fouled on the try. With the UD fans loud on their feet, Harris missed the first, made the second, and intentionally missed the third. The ball went back to the Flyers, who were able hang on for the 84-82 victory.

Dayton hits the road for a showdown against the Charlotte 49ers on Wednesday, January 17 at 7 p.m. ET.

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