Steven Wright – Sports Editor
Dayton head coach Archie Miller said he wanted fans to help carry his team to a win over Iona.
With white towels laid out on every seat, there was plenty to cheer about in one of Dayton’s higher scoring games in recent history.
The University of Dayton men’s basketball team ran over Iona 96-84 Thursday, Dec. 19.
“Have a lot of respect for Iona,” Miller said. “That team will probably have a chance to play in the NCAA Tournament. … There’s some really, really talented offensive players and to be able to get the win tonight, I couldn’t be happier for our team.”
Sophomore forward Dyshawn Pierre had a double-double with 22 points and 14 rebounds. Dayton (9-2) owned a 40-26 edge on the boards, and Pierre’s eight offensive rebounds were as many as Iona’s entire team.
Redshirt senior guard Vee Sanford was perfect from the field in the second half on his way to scoring 17 points on 8-of-11 shooting, tying Pierre with four assists in 22 minutes off the bench.
“That kid deserves a lot of credit,” Miller said. “He’s playing career best basketball since he’s been at Dayton and that right there sets the tone for other guys to be able to get better.”
Sophomore guard A.J. English scored a career high 30 points to lead Iona, going 8 for 10 from three in the game. Senior guard Sean Armand, who is a top 10 scorer this season, had his sixth straight game with 20 or more points.
UD came up four points short of hitting triple-digits in a game for the second straight season, doing so last year against Fordham University on Jan. 23.
“We were trying to get 100, but a win’s a win at the end of the day. Hopefully we get another [chance],” Sanford said.
Iona (5-4) averaged over 80 points per game coming into the contest and shot better than its season averages in field goal percentage, 3-pointers and assists, but Dayton was able to lead by as many as 23 in the second half.
Dayton led 51-42 at halftime behind 14 points and eight rebounds from Pierre. Iona shot 57 percent from the floor on 16 for 28 shooting, while Dayton was 20-of-37.
Both teams shot over 50 percent for the game, but Dayton owned the paint with a 52-34 advantage and outscored Iona’s bench 38-10.
Thursday was the second game in a row Dayton did not trail at any point.
Dayton retakes the court Sunday, Dec. 22, against the University of Southern California at 2 p.m. in the final game before Christmas break.
UD lost to USC 63-61 in overtime in Los Angeles, Calif. last year.
Miller said he hopes to see the same type of atmosphere when the Pacific 12 Conference power makes its trip to UD Arena.
“It’s that game before Christmas that’s make or break,” Miller said. “Playing a team from the Pac-12 that’s already had some good wins … and their size presents real problems for us. … For them to come all the way back across the country and play in our arena, I feel like it’s going to be a special environment and the kids will be ready to play.”