Men’s Basketball Upsets No. 21 Dayton In 77-72 Victory 

Fourth-year forward Philip Alston extended his streak of reaching double figures to seven games.

The Loyola men’s basketball team picked up a huge 77-72 win over No. 21 Dayton University in front of a rowdy sold-out crowd in Gentile Arena March 1. 

Third-year guard Des Watson led the Ramblers with 24 points and graduate guard Braden Norris was central to the winning effort picking up a double-double with 19 points and 11 assists. Fourth-year forward Philip Alston extended his streak of reaching double figures to seven games with 13 points and seven rebounds. Third-year forward DaRon Holmes II led the effort for the Flyers, finishing with 20 points and nine rebounds. 

Loyola returned home with a record of 20-8 and 12-3 in conference, good enough for third in the Atlantic 10 after falling 79-64 to St. Bonaventure University Feb. 27. Dayton entered play holding second place in the A-10 at 22-5 overall and 12-3 in league play. 

Neither team scored during the first two-and-a-half minutes of play before Alston broke it open with a 3-pointer on the wing. Holmes II sank a deep two on the other end for Dayton’s first points. A minute later, Holmes II gave his team a 7-3 lead after banking in a driving layup. 

Graduate forward Dame Adelekun made it 7-5 after working in the post, but Holmes II came back with a 3-pointer putting his Flyers up five. Second-year guard Jayden Dawson and third-year Dayton forward Nate Santos traded driving layups before graduate forward Patrick Mwamba got a floater to fall to make it 12-9. 

After starting the game 0-3 from the field, Watson started to heat up after hitting a deep mid-range jumper, tying the score at 14-14 with a pull up 3-pointer a few possessions later. Third-year Flyer guard Enoch Cheeks came right back and sank a three before second-year Dayton guard Javon Bennet intercepted a Loyola pass and took it all the way to the rack, making it 19-14.

The Ramblers struck back when graduate forward Tom Welch found Watson cutting for an easy layup and Alston sank two free throws to make it a one-possession game at 21-18. After a Dayton score, Watson connected on a deep 3-pointer, keeping the Ramblers in it at 23-21. 

Bennet drained a three in the corner but Watson was undeterred as he responded with another 3-pointer. Two points separated the squads until Santos received a pass inside and dropped it, making it 30-26. 

As the first half began to tick down, Watson drained another 3-pointer to bring the Ramblers within one. The Flyers seized the momentum as Holmes II broke free for a dunk before Bennet put Loyola down 35-29 with an open 3-pointer in the corner. 

With just 13 seconds left in the half, Norris drew a foul shooting a 3-pointer and went on to sink all three at the line, sending the teams into the break with Dayton ahead 35-32. 

Watson picked up right where he left off and opened the second half with a Eurostep finish before Adelekun tied it at 35 with a free throw. Dawson gave Loyola their first lead since the opening minutes when he jumped into the passing lane and took it all the way to make it 37-35. 

Dayton responded with a 6-0 run to retake a 41-37 advantage until Dawson balanced the Ramblers with a pull-up jumper from the corner of the key. Holmes II added two at the line before Alston scored inside to make it 43-41. 

Norris gave the lead back to the Ramblers with a 3-pointer. On the other end, third-year Flyer guard Kobe Elvis scored inside, giving his team a slim one-point lead. Dawson retook the lead with a corner three but third-year Dayton guard Koby Brea had the response and hit a 3-pointer, putting his team back ahead. 

Santos created separation after he connected a deep 3-pointer and drew a foul in the process, capping off the four-point play with a free throw, making it 52-47. A scoring drought ensued for both squads until Norris broke through with a corner 3-pointer. 

Loyola retook the lead at 53-52 after second-year guard Jalen Quinn came across the key for a driving layup. Watson and Holmes II exchanged successful trips to the line. Then, Norris and Welch nearly blew the roof off Gentile Arena when Norris threw a lob that Welch brought down with two hands. 

The Flyers threw an errant pass to Norris and he got it down floor to Watson for a fast break layup to put the Ramblers up 59-56. Norris kept it rolling with a turn-around fade-away jumper and assisted Watson for an open jumper in the paint, helping the Ramblers go up 63-56.

Dayton stormed back with a 7-0 run on the back of a three-point play by Cheeks and a score in the paint from Holmes II to knot it up at 63 with just over four minutes left. It stayed even as Alston got a reverse layup to fall before Holmes II scored in the paint through heavy traffic.

Quinn made a free throw and Alston connected on a 3-pointer in the corner, forcing Dayton to call timeout down 69-65 with just under three minutes remaining. Brea hit a three in the corner which Norris responded to with one his own, keeping Loyola ahead 72-68. 

First-year center Miles Rubin came up with two key blocks, keeping the Flyer offense at bay and with 45 seconds to go Holmes II earned a trip to the line where he made both attempts to make it 72-70. 

Norris came up huge once again and, with 17 seconds to go, sank a three in the corner to give the Ramblers a comfortable 75-70 lead. After the game, Norris said preparation takes over in those key moments. 

“Honestly, you just kind of black out in a game like that when it’s that loud,” Norris said. “The first one I hit, I didn’t know if it was going to be short, long, I couldn’t even feel it come off my hands.”

Elvis hurried down the floor for a driving layup before Norris was intentionally fouled and put it away with two free throws. Gentile Arena erupted and the Loyola players stormed onto the floor as the final buzzer sounded with Loyola ahead 77-72. 

Loyola head coach Drew Valentine said it was a gritty game and his team knew coming in they needed to be tough and focused to come out with a win.

“We knew it was going to be a high-level atmosphere and environment,” Valentine said. “We needed to make sure we were the tougher team physically and tougher team mentally. The focus remained on winning the game and getting it done.” 

Featured image by Allison Treanor | The Phoenix

Griffin Krueger

Griffin Krueger

Griffin Krueger is the Editor-in-Chief of The Phoenix. He began working for The Phoenix during his first week at Loyola and previously served as Assistant News Editor and Sports Editor. Krueger is a fourth-year Political Science major with minors in Economics and History. In his free time he enjoys reading and exploring the city on his bike.