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Dayton wins battle of ranked teams with Rhode Island

Jan 10, 2008 - 4:39 AM DAYTON, Ohio (Ticker) -- Andres Sandoval didn't want Dayton's strong start to go to waste.

Sandoval scored nine of his season-high 12 points in the second half as the No. 22 Flyers captured their 12th consecutive win with a 92-83 victory over No. 20 Rhode Island in the Atlantic 10 Conference opener for both teams on Wednesday.

Brian Roberts led the way with 23 points and Marcus Johnson added 14 for Dayton (13-1, 0-1 A-10), which improved to 10-0 at home this season.

In fact, the Flyers are 66-8 all-time at home when ranked.

"I thought you saw two really good teams play tonight," Dayton coach Brian Gregory said. "We talked to our team before the game that this was one game and win or lose, we're going to have to move on and play Saturday evening. We found out a lot about ourselves tonight."

With two ranked teams squaring off against each other in a league opener for the first time in conference history, the Flyers were sizzling early, grabbing a 54-41 lead at the half after shooting 74 percent (20-of-27).

The first-half point total was a season high for Dayton, which also made seven 3-pointers before intermission.

However, the Rams, who entered the contest with nine straight wins, made a charge, closing within 68-65 on a baseline jumper by Will Daniels with 9:29 remaining.

Sandoval responded with a 3-pointer just 30 seconds later and converted a layup with 4:30 remaining for a 76-70 edge.

"We knew how tough it was going to be," Roberts said. "Even with a lead we knew they were going to fight back, and we got a lot of good play from a lot of guys."

Charles Little completed a three-point play about a minute later and Roberts' third 3-pointer of the game gave Dayton an 82-73 advantage with 2 1/2 minutes to go.

Rhode Island made another attempt to close the gap, making it 82-78 on a dunk by Daniels with 1:31 remaining.

Johnson's 3-pointer just 33 ticks later put the contest out of reach.

That was one of 11 baskets from the arc for the Flyers, who shot 62 percent (31-of-50) in beating the Rams for just the second time in the last five meetings.

Dayton showed its quality depth down the stretch as 10 players scored, including seven with at least six points.

"It was good to see we got good basketball from so many different guys and we're going to need that," Gregory said. "You saw two teams that really relied on their depth and both teams utilized that depth. Again, we got a lot of big plays from a lot of big players."

Roberts went 7-of-11 from the field and handed out seven assists. The senior guard also committed a season-high seven turnovers, something that Roberts credited to Rhode Island focusing on him defensively.

"They threw some double-teams out at me and for the most part played solid man-to-man defense," he said. "I had a few turnovers here and there, but I tried to maintain my poise. Like I said, my teammates made a lot of good plays."

Jimmy Baron had 26 points and Daniels chipped in 25 for Rhode Island (14-2, 0-1), which fell to a ranked team for the 12th consecutive time.

Coming off numerous screens, Baron went 6-of-14 on 3-pointers as the Rams went 10-of-26 (38.5 percent) from the arc and shot 50 percent (32-of-64) from the field.

Parfait Bitee had a career-high 15 points and five assists for Rhode Island, which finished with as many turnovers (12) as assists.