DAYTON, Ohio (AP) – Kendall Pollard and Kyle Davis each grabbed clutch defensive rebounds and were perfect in four tries at the free-throw line in the last 16 seconds as Dayton held off a challenge from VCU for a 79-72 win in the battle for the Atlantic 10 Conference championship and top seed into the conference tournament.
Charles Cooke and Scoochie Smith scored 20 points each for Dayton, which never trailed, led by as many as 14 in the second half and ends the regular season on a nine-game win streak. Davis added 12 points and seven rebounds, Pollard 11 points and five boards for the Flyers (24-5, 15-2).
JaQuan Lewis converted a 3-point play for VCU (23-7, 13-4) that made it a two-point game with three minutes to go. After each team missed from the field, Pollard and Davis made two each at the line and Smith 1 of 2 – all fouled after grabbing defensive rebounds (27 of Dayton’s 33 boards).
Mo Alie-Cox led VCU with 20 points, Justin Tillman added 18 with 10 rebounds and Lewis scored 15.
Dayton seniors Davis, Smith, Pollard, Cooke and Jeremiah Bonsu have won a program-record 101 wins.
The following is additional information directly from VCU:
RAMS FALL AT DAYTON DESPITE ALIE-COX, TILLMAN
Score: Dayton 79, VCU 72
Location: Dayton, Ohio (UD Arena)
Records: VCU 23-7 (13-4 A-10), Dayton 24-6 (15-2 A-10)
The short story: VCU faced its largest deficit at 65-51 with 12:08 left in the second half before a Justin Tillman basket sparked a 20-8 run to get VCU within 73-71 with 3:09 remaining. After the teams traded a point, the Rams gained possession trailing 74-72 with 19 seconds remaining but JeQuan Lewis’ 3-point attempt fell short.
· Mo Alie-Cox scored a career-high 23 points along with four rebounds and three blocks.
· Justin Tillman had a double-double with 18 points and a team-high 10 rebounds for the Black and Gold.
· Lewis was the third Ram in double figures with 15 points and a five assists.
· The Rams split the season series with Dayton, VCU took the first matchup at home in a 73-68 win.
· Scoochie Smith and Charles Cooke scored 40 points on a combined 14-of-25 shooting from the field.
· Dayton’s 14-point lead in the second half evaporate as the Rams remanded within five points of the Flyers from the 3:51 mark.
· The Flyers went 5-of-6 from the free throw line in the final 16 seconds to hold off VCU.
· Dayton shot 54.2 percent from the field and 40 percent from 3-point range against the Rams.
· VCU shot 38.2 percent from the field in the second half and 0-of-8 from 3-point range. VCU only shot 2-of-15 from behind the arc for the contest.
· The Flyers’ first half shooting allowed them to take a 45-38 lead at the break while the Rams shot a respectable 48.3 percent.
· The Rams, who dominated in second chance points 26-8 in the first meeting, again led 18-5 in that category.
INSIDE THE BOX SCORE
· Justin Tillman’s double-double was his eighth of the season.
· Alie-Cox’s previous career-high was 21 points against Rhode Island on February 16, 2016.
· The Rams had a 50-34 advantage in points in the paint and a slight 35-33 advantage in rebounds.
· VCU was 13-of-34 from the field in the second half and 8-of-14 at the free throw line.
· Dayton led 12-6 in fast break points.
VCU return home to face George Mason on Saturday, March 4.