HOFFMAN ESTATES, Ill. – Maybe the change of uniform color did the Flyers well.
Dayton's 56-point outburst in the second half grounded the powder-blue clad Marquette Golden Eagles (5-1) in a 89-75 victory Saturday night at the Sears Centre.
Rob Lowery led the Flyers with 21 points off the bench and Chris Wright added 13 points and 13 rebounds for the Chicago Invite champions. The 6-0 start for Dayton is their best start since 2003-2004.
Usually a hot team in the second half, the Golden Eagles looked sluggish from the beginning. Marquette allowed the Flyers to shoot 58.6 percent in the second half and were outrebounded 22-17.
The turning point came in the second half at about the fifteen minute mark. MU trailed by only six, but five minutes later they found themselves down by 15 points. The run was punctuated by a monstrous dunk from Wright at the 13:13 mark.
"For a five minute stretch, we were a little bit better," Dayton head coach Brian Gregory said. "And that was about it."
Wes Matthews tried to save Marquette with a career-high 28-point output, but it wasn't enough. Jerel McNeal added 16 but shot an unimpressive 7-of-23 from the field, including 1-of-8 from three. Both senior guards were named to the all-tournament team.
Penetration was key for Dayton, as they scored frequently in the paint off the dribble.
"They're long, they're athletic, " Marquette head coach Buzz Williams said of Dayton, "and I think that they have a really good team."
Dominic James, who was left off the all-tournament squad, played an impressive game with 19 points, eight assists and seven rebounds, while only committing two turnovers.
However, James shot 5-of-11 from the line, part of 64 percent free-throw shooting overall for the Golden Eagles.
"I think all of our guys can make free throws," Williams said. "I think it's contagious, just like anything else. You can't shoot 64 percent from the line against any team, much less a good team."
Another key for Dayton was their constant string of rested bodies off the bench.
"We play 12 guys," Gregory said. "We're going to keep doing it because we've been fresh. We had to play on all cylinders tonight and that's exactly what happened."
Those seven bench players for Dayton accounted for 48 points, while Marquette's bench produced only David Cubillan's five points.
Marquette also forced only four steals, as Dayton did a remarkable job in taking care of the ball.
"Our biggest concern was us taking care of the ball," Gregory said. "With only 11 turnovers and us actually forcing more turnovers, that was a big key for us."
Lazar Hayward played only 24 minutes for the Golden Eagles due to foul trouble. The junior was able to get eight rebounds but was caught guarding bigger players most of the game. One of these players was Devin Searcy, who notched 12 points and 11 rebounds, including six on the offensive glass. The lack of size for the Golden Eagles stuck out like a sore thumb.
Williams tried to see some benefit in the loss.
"Tonight was the first time we've ever played from behind. We played five games and never have been behind, and we played 34-and-a-half minutes tonight from behind. We've got to grow up – we're going to play from behind."
And Williams certainly didn't blame the jerseys, which the Golden Eagles wore for only the second time.
"I really don't think it matters what shoes you wear or what socks you wear or what color jersey you wear. I think your heart has to be revealed. And I think you've got to hook up and compete on every possession."
Dwight Burke continued his streak of more fouls than points – now at six games.
Marquette's largest lead was two, and that was with 16:36 to go in the first half.
Dayton shot 30 percent from the field Friday night and 54 percent on Saturday night.