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Strategy in final seconds pays off for Flyers

Visions of losses to Southern California and Saint Joseph’s, not to mention who knows how many heart-breakers in past seasons, must have flashed through Dayton fans’ minds on Saturday in the final seconds against Saint Bonaventure. Those defeats, both on last-second 3-pointers, certainly figured into coach Archie Miller’s thinking.

With the Flyers leading by three after two free throws by Devin Oliver with 12.6 seconds left, Miller ordered the Flyers to foul the Bonnies instead of letting them attempt a tying 3-pointer at the Reilly Center. Khari Price fouled Charlon Kloof with nine seconds left, and Kloof made both free throws.

“We were right at our timeline and almost didn’t do it, but I’ve lost that battle way too many times,” Miller said. “We’ll take our chances with that.”

The Flyers won 72-69, so the decision worked. Oliver made it work by hitting two more free throws with seven seconds left. Somehow the Bonnies avoided a foul in the final seconds, but in doing so, Kloof failed to get off a 3-pointer in time before the buzzer sounded. He missed a wild shot anyway.

“On the second one, I don’t think Khari got him in time,” Miller said, “but he flubbed the ball trying to attempt a shot while there was a foul. We were very fortunate obviously, but we did not want to get beat by a 3-point shot.”

Sanford’s shot: Devin Oliver scored 10 of his 15 points in the final seven minutes, including a game-tying jumper with 2:59 left and four free throws in the final 13 seconds. But Vee Sanford hit maybe the biggest and toughest shot of the night with 1:12 to play, a jumper as the shot clock wound down to give Dayton a 68-64 lead.

“Sanford hit an NBA shot,” Saint Bonaventure coach Mark Schmidt said. “He rose up. We contested it. Give him credit.”

Magic number: Miller said earlier in the week the Flyers “had a chance to be good” when they committed less than 12 turnovers. They were right at that number Saturday, but had only four in the second half.

Big man: Saint Bonaventure’s 7-footer, Youssou Ndoye, scored 17 points on 6-of-6 shooting. He also helped UD get back in the game by missing the front end of a 1-and-1 with 3:14 left. Marquise Simmons also missed the front end of a 1-and-1 on the Bonnies’ previous possession.

Week ahead: The Flyers stay at home this week to play Rhode Island at 7 p.m. Wednesday and then get a week break before hosting La Salle at 9 p.m. on Feb. 19.

Dayton lost 88-76 at Rhode Island on Jan. 25. This is the first of four A-10 rematches for the Flyers against teams they lost to the first time. They also see Saint Joseph’s, St. Louis and Richmond in the next month.

Around the A-10: No. 13 Saint Louis (22-2, 9-0) won its 16th straight game, 65-63 at La Salle (12-11, 4-5), and remained in first place by itself. Jordair Jett scored 19 of his 25 points in the second half and hit the game-winning shot with four seconds left.

George Washington (19-4, 7-2) routed Fordham (9-13, 2-7) at home 93-67.

George Mason (8-15, 1-8) bounced back from its loss to Dayton on Wednesday and won its first A-10 game ever, 74-68 at Duquesne.

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