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DAYTON, Ohio -- A furious second-half comeback could not overcome a deep first-half deficit as the University of Dayton men’s basketball team closed out the regular season with a 71-66 loss to the surging Saint Louis Billikens.
UD was led by junior forward Chris Wright, who had 15 points and eight rebounds. Senior big man Kurt Huelsman had a season-high 13 points along with seven rebounds and Rob Lowery scored 11 as UD fell to 19-11 overall and 8-8 in the Atlantic 10.
The Flyers trailed by as much as 17 (34-17) as late as 2:01 left in the first half, and 34-19 at halftime. Dayton used most of the second half to claw back into the contest. UD cut the deficit to two (58-56) with 2:38 to play but Saint Louis countered with a 5-0 run to regain control. SLU made eight free throws in the last minute to keep the lead.
Dayton shot 45 percent from the floor, but connected on only 11-of-21 free throws. Saint Louis hit eight of its 14 three-point attempts in the first half and finished the game shooting a season-high 50 percent (12-of-24) from beyond the arc.
Saint Louis improves to 20-10 overall and 11-5 in the Atlantic 10. The Billikens have won seven of nine games since Feb. 1, with the only losses coming to Atlantic 10 regular season co-champions Temple and Xavier.
Dayton’s 11 losses have come by a total of 44 points.
Before the game, seniors Dan Fox, Luke Hendrick, Kurt Huelsman, Marcus Johnson, Rob Lowery, Mickey Perry and London Warren were honored as part of the evening’s Senior Night festivities. The class of 2010 has won 88 games so far in their careers, tying them for third with the class of 2003 behind the classes of 1955 (94) and 2004 (90).
The Flyers are the No. 7 seed in the 2010 Atlantic 10 Men’s Basketball Championship. UD hosts a first round game on Tuesday, March 9 against the George Washington Colonials. Tip-off is at 7 p.m. ET at UD Arena.
Head Coach Brian Gregory
“I was disappointed that we didn’t play better. That was not as good of a first half as we needed to play against a good team. We were a step slow in everything we did in the first half. I was hoping we could cut their lead in the first half but we couldn’t get a shot.”
“We have to move on and get rested. These last two and a half weeks have been a tough schedule. We have to figure out a way to come back and be fresher on Tuesday.”
“We weren’t able to get crucial stops when we needed them. It’s a fine line, because our pressure was the difference in getting back into it. But you can’t pressure to the point where you are giving up easy baskets.”
“We were always catching up. We were a little hesitant and that really cost us tonight.”
“They took it right to us and they got up and kept the lead. We cut it there at the end really close, but we gave up easy baskets and five straight points soon after at the end of the game. It cost us.”
“We know our season is not over. We know we are going to play again. We just have to move on and get ready for the next game.”
“Give them a lot of credit, they got the job done. Right now we have to get back together and work hard and find a way to get it done.”
“We are a bunch of competitors and we want to win. But we have at least one more game here at UD and with the guys here and the teammates we have we are going to do whatever it takes to get the job done.”
“They did a good job of staying poised and executing the things they do well, especially in pressure situations. They found a way to get open shots because of how well they run their offense. It’s easy to make shots when you get open looks. They were on fire. Every open shot they had, they made.”
“Of course you always go out there to expect to play well. You dream the night before about playing well but the reality is that’s not necessarily the case all the time. In your heart, you want to get the win as bad as possible, especially for our guys and the seven seniors with their last regular season game at home.”