By: Steven Wright – Sports Editor
The University of Dayton men’s basketball team remains undefeated this month and on a roll in Atlantic 10 Conference play.
Dayton won its fifth game in a row and moved above .500 for the first time in league play this year with a 65-53 win over La Salle University, Wednesday, Feb. 20, at UD Arena.
Senior forward Devin Oliver had a double-double with 14 points and 12 rebounds to go with five assists and one turnover in 38 minutes for UD. Redshirt senior center Matt Kavanaugh scored a season high 16 points and went 6-for-6 at the free throw line.
“It’s kind of been the theme of February, our everyday approach,” head coach Archie Miller said. “Very fortunate to beat La Salle tonight. Didn’t really play offensively as well as we needed to in certain stretches and I thought [La Salle] did a good job hanging tough.”
Dayton fell behind 17-7 with just under nine minutes remaining in the first half, but went on a 15-0 run and used a 3-pointer by redshirt junior guard Jordan Sibert, who had a game high 17 points and went 5 of 8 from the 3-point line, to take its first lead. UD did not relinquish the lead for the remainder of the game.
Kavanaugh led the charge with eight points during that stretch.
“First things first, it started with great defense,” Kavanaugh said. “It was one of our better defensive efforts of the year. … When we were getting stops, it allowed us to make it up on offense gradually.”
Sibert said the team didn’t feel like La Salle was having an effect on its rough start.
“That’s not us,” Sibert said. “Four points, eight points, however many we had, that’s not how we play. And defensively, they were scoring and we weren’t. That’s not how we play. We knew we just had to get back to it.”
UD outscored La Salle in the paint 18-10, and got 19 points off 13 turnovers in the first half.
La Salle stayed within single digits for most of the second half and only trailed by five with 4:59 remaining, but ended the game missing eight of its final nine shots as Dayton closed the door with an 11-4 run.
Archie said he thought Kavanaugh’s presence in the second half, along with Oliver’s contributions, were keys to the win. He said Oliver’s stat line was one of the best a player can have.
La Salle began its 2013 NCAA tournament run at UD Arena in the First Four, eventually advancing through to the Sweet 16. The team hasn’t beaten Dayton at UD Arena since Feb. 27, 1999.