ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — Kevin Dillard had 19 points, Chris Johnson added 18 and Dayton hit 12 3-pointers as the Flyers rode a hot-shooting performance to an 86-70 Old Spice Classic championship game victory over Minnesota on Sunday night.
The Flyers (5-1) connected on 12 of their 27 3-point attempts and shot 46 percent overall (28 of 60). Dillard also took home Most Valuable Player honors.
Minnesota (6-1) played the final 17 minutes without leading scorer and rebounder Trevor Mbakwe, who left the game after sustaining a right leg injury.
Without his defensive presence underneath, the Flyers exploited the middle of the floor both in their half-court sets and in transition.
The Golden Gophers tried to make up for Mbakwe’s absence with its own outside shooting, but connected on only 7 of their 18 attempts.
Austin Hollins led the Golden Gophers, who suffered their first loss of the season, with 14 points. Julian Welch chipped in 12 for Minnesota.
Mbakwe left the game with Minnesota trailing 45-36 after he appeared to land awkwardly on his leg while battling for a rebound. He stayed down on for several minutes afterward while being attended to by trainers. When he got to his feet he avoided putting any pressure on the leg as he was helped off the floor.
Mbakwe later returned to bench with an ice pack over his right shin and knee. He left the arena on crutches and will have an MRI.
The 6-foot-8 forward came into Sunday’s game averaging a team-high 14.8 points and 10 rebounds.
The Flyers opened up as much as an 18-point lead in the second half. The Golden Gophers got within 13 with 2:08 to play, but got no closer.
Dayton led 37-28 at the break, thanks to a blinding offensive spurt with just under nine minutes to play in the half.
The Flyers trailed 23-12 after Minnesota’s Oto Osenieks dropped in a free throw to complete a three-point play.
But Dayton pushed the pace on several ensuing possessions and it paid off as the Golden Gophers struggled to keep up with its guards in the open floor.
The result was an 18-2 run that put the Flyers out in front 30-25. They then finished the half outscoring Minnesota 7-3.
The Golden Gophers shot 50 percent in the opening 20 minutes (11 of 22), but had only a pair of 3-pointers. Dayton shot just 42 percent (15 of 35), but made up for it going 7 of 17 from beyond the arc.
Dayton plays eight of its next nine games at home beginning Wednesday against Buffalo. Minnesota has a six-game home stand up next, beginning with Big Ten-ACC Challenge matchup with Virginia Tech also on Wednesday.
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