DAYTON, Ohio (AP)—It was a slowdown strategy that nearly worked.
Upset-minded Fordham ran down the shot clock on nearly every offensive possession to try to stay in the game with No. 25 Dayton on Saturday.
But the Flyers stepped up their defense in the second half and found the range on 3-pointers to hold off the scrappy Rams and escape with a 69-64 victory.
“We’re very pleased to get the win,” Dayton coach Oliver Purnell said. “It was a great game and gave our team a new kind of challenge. (Fordham coach) Bob (Hill) came in with an excellent game plan, and they stuck with it. We were expecting the unexpected from them.”
Hill said he decided to hold the ball while trying to free up his big men for high-percentage shots. The slowdown strategy minimized the number of Dayton’s possessions and kept the game close. There were 15 lead changes.
“I don’t like to play that way, but it was the only shot—I thought—to stay in the game, and it worked,” Hill said. “It’s the only time we have played like that.”
Brooks Hall scored 15 points to lead five Dayton players in double figures and deal Fordham its 13th straight loss.
Michael Haynes had 25 points for Fordham (2-23, 1-13 Atlantic 10), which was down 67-64 with 27 seconds left and got the ball on a steal by Mark Jarrell-Wright.
Freshman John Blackgrove missed a possible tying 3-pointer with 5 seconds to play and Dayton’s D.J. Stelly grabbed the rebound. He was fouled and missed the front end of a 1-and-1. Fordham’s Ashanti Burke got the rebound and called a timeout with 1 second left, but the Rams were out of timeouts.
A technical foul was called, and Hall made two free throws to give Dayton (21-5, 13-2) its 17th victory in 20 games.
“He didn’t do it on purpose,” Hill said of Burke. “Kids just respond. He will probably be in a deep depression for the next 10 days.”
Dayton outrebounded the Rams 38-26 and had 25 second-chance points to Fordham’s eight.
But Fordham countered with Haynes—who was 5-of-5 from 3-point range—and Blackgrove, who had 15 points, including three 3-pointers.
“We let them hang in the game, and they hit some tough, but good shots,” said Dayton center Sean Finn, who had eight rebounds. “Their record isn’t as good as some, so we were very fortunate to come out of here with a win.”
The Rams stretched the Flyers defense, looking for open shots off passes on cuts to the basket.
Dayton played patiently and tried to work the ball inside for high percentage shots, but the Rams defense would collapse, forcing the Flyers to rely on perimeter shooting.
Stelly, Keith Waleskowski, Ramod Marshall and Mark Jones each had 10 points for the Flyers.
“They came out and played a tough game,” Jones said. “They kept coming at us. Their record is a bit misleading, and they showed it the way they played today.”
Dayton shot 35 percent in the first half, including going 2-for-11 from 3-point range. But the Flyers stayed in the game by going 12-of-13 from the free throw line. Nate Green, who was nursing a sore shoulder, was 8-for-9.
Dayton went on a 7-0 run to take a 34-27 lead, but Drew Williamson hit a 3-pointer to make a four-point game at halftime.