La Salle got served a lesson by No. 20-ranked Dayton on Thursday night, as the Flyers romped to a 84-58 win before a crowd of 2,241 at Tom Gola Arena that included plenty of red-clad visitors.
The Explorers (9-4, 0-1 Atlantic 10) kept things close early on, but not for too long. Dayton’s lead was just 17-12 seven minutes into the game, but over the next seven minutes the Flyers (12-2, 1-0) outscored La Salle 21-2.
At intermission, Dayton was up 46-24.
The Flyers were led in scoring by star forward Obi Toppin, who delivered 20 points on 7-of-9 shooting from the field. La Salle’s top scorer was Ed Croswell with 14 points.
It was Dayton’s first win in Philadelphia in nine years, snapping an eight-game losing streak in the city.
Dayton went into the night ranked No. 5 nationally in offensive efficiency and showed why in its first-half romp, averaging 1.324 points per possession.
La Salle didn’t make a three-pointer until 14:11 to go in the second half. The Explorers missed their first seven attempts, and finished the game 3-for-17 from beyond the arc
“I felt like this was a reality check for us. We played some opponents that weren’t at the same level as the Atlantic 10, and we won those games. I was afraid that we may get a little overconfident and a false sense of where we are. Today put us right back.” — La Salle coach Ashley Howard
“They embody their coach’s personality and they play with grit, and that’s a compliment. In pretty much every game that I’ve seen, they have an ability to disrupt what you do and your flow from an offensive standpoint, whether that’s taking away the three-point line or causing turnovers.” — Dayton coach Anthony Grant on La Salle’s defense
OK, so La Salle didn’t measure up. But if you were wondering whether Dayton is as good as advertised, you got some proof.
If you want to say the Flyers beat a bad team, here are a few stats that show that they did some homework. They took just 15 three-point attempts, well below La Salle opponents’ average of 24.3 per game. Dayton also gave up only five steals against an Explorers team that forces 7.4 per game.