Not surprisingly, St. Joseph’s played one of its best games of the season at home against Dayton.
In a streak that dates back to 2000, the Hawks topped the Flyers for the ninth straight time on on their own floor. On Wednesday night, with a balanced scoring attack and a solid defensive effort, they cruised to an 81-65 victory before 3,251 at Hagan Arena.
“The people that show up here at St. Joseph’s are very faithful and engaged,” St. Joseph’s coach Phil Martelli said. “It we continue to get better, we’ll get this place rockin’.”
James Demery (19 points), Taylor Funk (18), Shavar Newkirk (17), Nick Robinson (13), and Chris Clover (10) were double-digit scorers for the victors.
Funk, a 6-foot-10 freshman from Lancaster’s Manheim Central, shot 4 for 8 from beyond the arc. Overall, the Hawks were 10 for 26 from (38.5 percent) from that difference.
Robinson was questionable with the flu but gave coaches the thumbs-up sign at a video session nearly two hours before tip-off. The sixth man and backup to Newkirk at point guard added five boards and two steals.
“We have to take some of the load off Shavar, and he’s helped us do that,” Martelli said.
Rebounding from two straight defeats, the Hawks improved to 8-9 overall and 3-3 in conference play; Dayton, which was coming off Friday’s 106-79 rout of Virginia Commonwealth, slipped to 9-9 and 3-3.
The Flyers, under first-year coach Anthony Grant, shot just 23 for 62 from the field. They converted only 13 of 38 three-point tries.
“I think the defensive patience, both from the players and the coaches, made a difference,” Martelli said. “I think we stayed the course.”
Clover, a junior wing guard from St. Joseph’s Prep, nailed a trey from the left baseline to put the Hawks comfortably ahead, 52-33, with 16 1/2 minutes remaining.
With Demery and Funk scoring 15 and 10 points, respectively, the Hawks took a 42-30 advantage into halftime. Newkirk was next in line with seven markers.
St. Joseph’s used a 9-0 spurt to take a 29-20 lead with just under seven minutes remaining in the first half. It was highlighted by Robinson’s trey from up top, Clover’s putback, and Newkirk’s two free throws.
The Hawks shot 15 for 30 from the field, including 6 for 13 on threes, and 6 for 7 from the line in the first half. The Flyers connected on only 7 of 22 tries from long range.
After missing Sunday’s 72-69 setback at Massachusetts with the flu, St. Joseph’s forward Pierfrancesco Oliva was held scoreless but posted 15 defensive rebounds and three assists.
The Hawks continue conference play when they host Fordham at 1 p.m. Saturday. Dayton, which was paced by guard Jalen Crutcher’s 23 points, entertains Rhode Island on the same day and time.