Vanderbilt's quest for a quality win will have to wait until they face Purdue on December 22nd. The Commodores rushed out to another big lead on Wednesday night, but couldn't hold that momentum as Dayton came back to win at Memorial Gym 72-67.
Damian Jones had 18 points, but missed a pair of big free throws down the stretch as the 'Dores fell for their second straight game. Wade Baldwin added another 18, and Riley LaChance had 11 in the losing effort. Dayton forward Kendall Pollard led all scorers with 21 points.
Vanderbilt took control of the game over a 29-11 stretch that put them up 38-22 late in the first half, but four straight turnovers gave Dayton the chance to turn this into an eight-point game at the half. Damian Jones showed off the post scoring that makes him a potential NBA Draft Lottery pick in 2016 when he dropped 12 points on the Flyers on only seven field goal attempts in the first half. However, the Commodores were out-rebounded on the defensive glass, allowing Dayton to pick up nine second chances from missed shots early in this game - a flaw that proved fatal in their last outing against No. 16 Baylor.
Dayton rode that momentum to pull to a 57-50 lead after trailing by as many as 16 points on the road in the first half. Pollard led the Flyers on a 25-10 run that threatened to blow the Commodores off their home floor. Vanderbilt came back to pull within one point with six minutes to play, but a handful of hustle plays from Dayton - a circus shot here, an offensive rebound there - allowed the visitors to keep their lead as the clock wound down.
Vanderbilt's defense held tough, but Dayton got enough second chances and defensive stops to prevent a Vandy comeback.
The 'Dores trailed 69-62 when Baldwin drew a foul and hit both shots to make it a five-point game with 38 seconds to play. Vandy fouled, and Scoochie Smith missed the ensuing free throw but grabbed his own rebound - and missed that. Baldwin drove and dished to Matthew Fisher-Davis for three, and another Dayton miss gave the Commodores the ball down two. Baldwin drove to the hoop for a contested layup that looked good coming off his hand, but the shot rimmed out, and Kyle Davis hit both his free throws on the other end to ice this game.
Vanderbilt fell to 6-3 with the loss. Dayton improved to 7-1 and will likely earn a spot in the top 25 after a big road win. The Commodores will return to the court 10 days from now (after finals) to host Wofford at Memorial Gym.