VCU clamps down on No. 18 Dayton 49-47

Jason Nelson scored a team-high 11 points to help host VCU pull off a 49-47 win over No. 18 Dayton in Richmond, Va., on Friday.

Zeb Jackson collected nine points and six rebounds for the Rams (16-8, 8-3 Atlantic 10), who won despite not scoring for the final six minutes. Sean Bairstow and Toibu Lawal scored six points apiece, and Bairstow also collected a team-high eight rebounds for VCU, which has won three in a row and eight of its last nine games.

Nate Santos led Dayton (19-4, 9-2) with 19 points, and DaRon Holmes II had 12 points, 11 rebounds and two steals. Holmes struggled from the foul line, however, making just 5 of 13 attempts.

In a defensive battle, VCU shot 37.7 percent from the field, while Dayton managed just 36.2 percent. VCU entered Friday averaging 72.4 points per game, while Dayton — which had won 16 of its last 17 games — had been averaging 75 points per game.

VCU carried a 25-22 advantage into the second half, and extended its lead to 42-34 on Nelson’s floater with 13:44 remaining.

At the 8:30 mark, Santos’ layup cut the Flyers’ deficit to two points. Lawal and Kuany Kuany each scored, extending VCU’s lead to 47-41 with 6:57 left.

With Dayton down seven with 4:46 remaining, Koby Brea’s corner triple beat the shot clock and cut VCU’s advantage to 49-45.

Following Brea’s 3-pointer, neither team scored again until Santos’ two free throws at the 3:05 mark, which cut Dayton’s deficit to 49-47.

From there, VCU had a chance to extend its lead when Holmes blocked Bairstow’s layup with 30 seconds left. On the final possession, Holmes’ running layup kicked off the rim and time expired.

Neither team got off to impressive offensive starts, with VCU connecting on just 11 of 29 (37.9 percent) first-half attempts from the field, while Dayton shot 9-for-25 (36 percent) from the field.

After Santos’ triple got Dayton on the board first for its only lead of the opening half, VCU answered with Christian Fermin’s layup and Nelson’s triple to take a 5-3 lead at the 15:06 mark.

Nelson’s nine points led VCU at the break, while Santos paced Dayton with 11.

The teams meet again March 8 at Dayton to close the regular season.