DAYTON, Ohio (AP)—Massachusetts hasn’t heard about Dayton being so tough to beat at home.
Ricky Harris scored 22 points and Chris Lowe added 19 to lead the Minutemen to an 82-71 victory Wednesday night, their second in as many years in Dayton and one that snapped the Flyers’ 13-game winning streak.
Dayton (14-2, 2-1 Atlantic 10) won its first 14 home games last season before that streak ended with a 77-69 loss to Massachusetts (12-4, 1-1). This was the first home loss of the season for the Flyers, who beat then-No. 6 Pittsburgh here.
“In our offense, anyone can have a breakout day. Today was my day,” Harris said. “I came out early and made shots, and that helped me stay confident.”
Dayton’s Brian Roberts finished with 21, but Massachusetts put the clamps on the Flyers’ leading scorer in the first half, holding him to two points and forcing Dayton to look for other scorers.
“We focused on Roberts as much as we could to shut him down. We executed almost to perfection,” Massachusetts coach Travis Ford said.
The Minuteman finished with 13 3-pointers and used their speed in the open court to beat Dayton’s defense, scoring 14 points off fast breaks.
“We gave up way too much dribble penetration, which led to open 3s,” Dayton coach Brian Gregory said. “If they’re going to double Brian Roberts, other guys need to step up and make plays. We didn’t do enough of that tonight consistently.”
Dayton finished 4-of-25 from 3-point range. When Dayton tried to take the ball inside, the Minutemen would collapse, blocking shots—six in all—or forcing the Flyers to kick the ball back out.
Dayton took a 57-56 lead with 10:10 remaining on a layup by Roberts. With the Flyers leading 59-58 after the teams exchanged baskets, Lowe hit two free throws to put Massachusetts ahead for good. A minute later he made a layup off a missed 3-point attempt by the Flyers, and the Minutemen never trailed again.
“I told our team to expect them to come back,” Ford said. “They came back and even took the lead, but we responded well.”
Massachusetts put a stifling defense on Roberts, often double-teaming him and forcing him to pass.
“It was full-out denial,” Roberts said. “As soon as I gave the ball up, it was tough to get it back. They would run two or three guys at me randomly, and they came out and executed their game plan well.”
Gary Forbes had 16 points and Dante Milligan added 13 for Massachusetts which was outrebounded 50-35.
Marcus Johnson had 15 points and Charles Little added 13 for the Flyers.
Massachusetts caught Dayton flatfooted at the game’s start, taking a 15-3 lead. Led by Little and London Warren, the Flyers stormed back to take a 31-30 lead with 51 seconds left in the half, but 3-pointers by Gary Forbes and Etienne Brower put Massachusetts ahead 36-31 at halftime.
The victory ended a two-game losing streak for Massachusetts, which had lost to No. 16 Vanderbilt and Saint Joseph’s.
“You just saw a team that was ready to fight,” said Ford, adding that he put the players through double practice sessions earlier this week in preparation for this game. “It was just punishment almost. It wasn’t pretty, but now it’s paying off.”