Saint Louis took No. 17 Dayton to overtime, but wasn't able to close the deal. The Flyers outscored the Billikens 13-2 in the extra period and handed Saint Louis a 68-57 defeat in front of 11,108 fans.
"I feel bad that the guys gave that kind of an effort and just couldn't quite get there," Billikens coach Rick Majerus said.
Saint Louis (9-7 overall, 0-2 in the A-10) was coming off its 49-20 loss at George Washington on Thursday night, which set the Division I record for fewest points since the shot clock was introduced in the 1985-86 season.
Majerus said the team met for five hours on Friday for practice, to watch film and go over the game plan for Dayton.
"I couldn't have asked for a better effort (on Friday) mentally and psychologically," Majerus said. "… The guys did a very good job yesterday."
SLU senior forward Luke Meyer, who had team-high 19 points, six rebounds and three steals on Saturday, said the team had a players-only meeting to discuss the George Washington loss and going forward from it.
"The team really came together after that game," Meyer said. "We just looked at it as another loss. We didn't look into everything too much. We didn't watch TV. I didn't answer my phone. Everyone was trying to call me. I just forgot about it and treated it as any loss. We had a real good practice yesterday. We watched the tape of George Washington and prepared for Dayton … We had a good practice yesterday and we really came ready to play tonight."
Dayton (14-1 overall, 2-0 in the A-10) was without 6-foot-8 freshman Chris Wright, the Flyers' second-leading scorer who is out for the next four to eight weeks with an ankle injury.
Senior guard Brian Roberts, Dayton's leading scorer at 19.4 points per game, picked up the scoring slack. He racked up a game-high 30 points on eight-of-17 shooting, including three 3-pointers, and made 11 of 12 free throw attempts. He scored seven of the Flyers' 13 points in overtime.
"I give Dayton a lot of credit," Majerus said. "Roberts is really good. He should be a big-time pro. … On some of those shots, we couldn't have covered him any better. Dayton's a very, very good team obviously and he's a hell of a player."
Both teams started out strong offensively.
When Saint Louis tied the score at 21-21 on a mid-range jump shot by senior center Bryce Husak with 6 minutes and 11 seconds left in the first half, the crowd cheered in acknowledgement of breaking the 20-point mark.
When Meyer made two free throws with 1:34 remaining in the first half to give the Billikens their first lead of the game at 27-26, the crowd rose to its feet to cheer on the home team.
The teams went into halftime tied at 30-30 after junior guard Kevin Lisch (13 points) knocked down a 3-pointer with two seconds remaining in the half.
"That's as good a defensive team as there is around," Dayton coach Brian Gregory said. "You watch them on film and you just wonder how you are going to score on them. I think you saw today some flashes in terms of Saint Louis and some of their offensive stuff as well. These last 14 games, that's a team that is getting better. Throw that other game away because that was nothing."
SLU's largest lead, 38-35, came with 14:32 left in the second half when senior guard Dwayne Polk found Meyer alone underneath the basket with a nifty pass as the shot clock was about to expire.
The Billikens kept fighting.
Saint Louis led 51-49 with 4:02 remaining after junior guard Tommie Liddell III (18 points) made a 3-pointer from the right corner and then Meyer sank a long jump shot. But that was the last lead of the night for SLU.
Roberts missed two long shots in the final seconds with Lisch hounding him that would have won the game for the Flyers.
The overtime period belonged to Dayton.
"We felt like we wore them down a little bit," Roberts said. "We wanted to keep the pace up and make it a fast tempo game. We felt like we were wearing them down and we took advantage in overtime."
The Flyers opened with two baskets from junior reserve forward Charles Little (16 points), including a thunderous two-hand alley-oop dunk off a pass from Roberts, and then made six of 10 free throw attempts to seal the victory.
"We're very fortunate again to leave this building with a win against a team I really have a lot of respect for," Gregory said. "I think Coach Majerus has got these guys on the defensive end playing unbelievably and they're only going to get better on offense."