Dyshawn Pierre didn’t seem troubled by Dayton’s failure to score 100 points Thursday against Iona — at least until he was told the Flyers hadn’t hit the century mark this century, not since Dec. 11, 1999, against Coastal Carolina.
“We should have,” Pierre said.
The Flyers may have fallen short of that mark, but they hit all the others, beating Iona 96-84 in front of a crowd of 11,539 at UD Arena. Dayton improved to 9-2 and 6-0 at home. It’s the Flyers best start since the 2009-10 season when they started 10-2.
For the second straight game, Dayton never trailed. It played 80 straight minutes against Central Michigan and Iona with the lead. There were no ties (other than 0-0) or lead changes in either game.
Iona outscored its average (80.4 points per game), but the Flyers proved they can play that game. Dayton improved to 6-0 when it scores 80 or more points.
“Good win tonight,” Dayton coach Archie Miller said. “We have a lot of respect for Iona. When we were able to do some non-conference scheduling, this was one I kind of circled in my mind as one of those dangerous games.
“That team will probably have a chance to play in the NCAA tournament. They’re going to win I don’t know how many games in a row when they get to conference play. They have some really talented offensive players. For us to get the win, I couldn’t be happier for our team. We keep building.”
Dyshawn Pierre led the Flyers with 22 points on 8-of-14 shooting. Vee Sanford hit 8-of-11 shots, scored nine points in a row at one point and finished with 17. Khari Price tallied 16 points by making 4-of-5 3-pointers. Jordan Sibert and Scoochie Smith each scored nine.
The Flyers pushed the pace throughout the game and seemed to wear out Iona in the second half. No one on Dayton played more than 29 minutes. Iona’s top two players. Sean Armand and A.J. English, who combined for 50 points, played 38 and 35 minutes, respectively.
A 13-6 run midway through the second half sealed the victory for Dayton. It led by as many as 23 points before Iona mounted a late charge.
“They like to press after made baskets,” Price said, “so we tried to push the pace before they set up and get easy buckets. That’s our game anyway. I think we did (wear them out). A lot of their 3s started coming up short. It definitely wears on them.”
Miller’s plea for a more noise from the fans seemed to make a difference. The crowd was into it, or maybe it was just the free white towels every fan received.
The Flyers have dominated their last two home games. They get three more, including a 2 p.m. Sunday game against Southern California, before they hit the road again Jan. 4 at Ole Miss.
“This is one of those unique weeks,” Miller said. “If you keep churning them out and taking care of business at home, you’re going to have a chance to keep building momentum and have a good season. Tonight, to put that in our pocket, is really big for us.”
Southern California at Dayton, 2 p.m. Sunday, SportsNet New York, Time Warner Cable SportsChannel, 1290, 95.7