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CHICAGO (AP) Des Watson scored 24 points and Braden Norris made two crucial 3-pointers down the stretch, finishing with 19 points and 11 assists as Loyola Chicago defeated No. 21 Dayton 77-72 on Friday night.

Philip Alston hit a 3 to give the Ramblers a 69-65 lead with 3:03 left, but Koby Brea answered with one of his own for Dayton. With 2:09 remaining, Norris drained a 3 to put Loyola Chicago up 72-68. DaRon Holmes II cut it to 72-70 with two free throws, but Norris iced the game with another 3 from the corner with 17 seconds to go.

“I'm not trying to undersell what happened today. And I'm also not trying to undersell the improvement our team has made. But our program has been a national program since I've been here,” Loyola Chicago coach Drew Valentine said. “These are the kind of wins we expect to happen.”

Alston scored 13 points and Miles Rubin blocked four shots for the Ramblers (21-8, 13-3 Atlantic 10), who have won eight of nine.

Holmes had 20 points and nine rebounds for Dayton (22-6, 12-4), which has dropped two of three. Enoch Cheeks added 16 points.

The Ramblers forced the Flyers into 22 turnovers.

“I thought our guys battled. It was a really highly contested game. Give them credit, they made some plays," Dayton coach Anthony Grant said. “Defensively, we knew they would be disruptive. They've got really good players, very well-coached team, and it was a great environment today. Unfortunately, we didn’t come out with a win.”

Starting guard Javon Bennett was not available in the second half for Dayton after injuring his hand.

The teams entered tied for second place in the Atlantic 10 behind Richmond, which is 13-2 in league play and hosts VCU on Saturday.

Loyola Chicago rebounded after a 79-64 loss at St. Bonaventure on Tuesday.

“For us to respond, especially after the way we played on Tuesday - quite frankly we got punked out," Valentine said. “And for us to respond this physically as we won this game was very impressive for a coach to see because I think that's when you know our team has bought into what you're coaching and you're preaching.”

Trailing by seven with under six minutes left, Dayton quickly erased the deficit. Cheeks converted a three-point play and Holmes followed with a pair of free throws to tie it at 63.

Brea made a 3 and Nate Santos followed with a four-point play to give the Flyers a 52-47 lead with 13:47 remaining. But the Ramblers went on a run of their own later in the second half. Watson sank two free throws and Norris found Tom Welch for an alley-oop dunk that sent the Gentile Center crowd to its feet. Watson’s layup extended the lead to 59-54 with 7:55 left.

The Flyers led 35-32 at halftime. Holmes scored eight of the first 10 points for Dayton and had a team-high 10 points at the break.

Watson kept the Ramblers in the game with 16 points in the first half. He was 4 of 5 from 3-point range. Santos made a 3-pointer in front of the Loyola Chicago bench with 15 seconds left in the half to get the lead up to 35-29, but Norris cut it to three with three free throws after being fouled on a 3-point attempt.


Dayton: After losing three of six, the Flyers are just a half-game ahead of VCU for third place in the Atlantic 10.

Loyola Chicago: It is March, they have 104-year-old Sister Jean on their side - can the Ramblers make another run?


Dayton: Plays at Saint Louis on Tuesday night before hosting its regular-season finale against VCU.

Loyola Chicago: Plays at Davidson on Wednesday night before hosting its regular-season finale against La Salle.


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