NEWARK, N.J. – Matt Kavanaugh came off the bench to score a career-high 15 points, nine in the second half, to lead Dayton to a come-from-behind victory over Seton Hall on Wednesday night.
The Flyers (10-3) trailed by 14 at halftime, but held the Pirates to just 25 points in the second half.
After the game was tied at 55 with 8:50 left, Dayton outhustled and outscored Seton Hall (6-5) in a 10-2 run over a three-minute span to take control of the game.
Prior to Wednesday night, the 6-foot-9 sophomore Kavanaugh's career best was just two points.
Chris Wright added 13 points and nine rebounds and Chris Johnson had 10 points and 10 rebounds to pace Dayton, which won for the third straight time.
The Pirates received 15 points from Jeff Robinson, 11 in the second half, and 13 points each from Jordan Theodore and Eniel Polynice, his best performance since transferring to Seton Hall.
The Pirates played their most spirited and most up-tempo half of the season in the first half, jumping out to a 40-26 lead at the break.
After the teams traded the lead twice over the first 5 minutes, the Pirates went on an 18-4 run to take control of the game, leading 30-18 with 6:20 remaining in the half on a lane jumper from Polynice, the former University of Mississippi player who was granted an extra year of eligibility to join the Pirates.
Fuquan Edwin (10 points) had five points during the 18-4 surge.
Polynice had 11 first-half points, his highest point total of the season.
The Pirates shot 50 percent in the first half, both from the floor (16 of 32) and from 3-point range (4 of 8), while holding the Flyers to a dismal 28 percent (10 of 36) from the floor and just 10 percent (1 of 10) from long distance.
The Flyers then came out inspired in the second half and went on a 22-6 run to take a 48-46 lead with 13:33 left on two free throws from Josh Benson.
Seven different Flyers scored during that run. After shooting so poorly in the first half, Dayton made seven of its first nine shots in the second half to climb back into the game.
The two teams played physical and intense basketball for the next nine minutes, trading the lead five times.
Dayton scored five straight points on a drive from Wright and a 3-pointer from Johnson to take a 59-55 lead with 5:40 left.
Dayton then held on for the remainder of the game, as the Pirates could not buy a basket. After shooting 50 percent in the first half, the Pirates were a dismal 8 of 30 (26 percent) after halftime.
The Flyers connected on six free throws in the closing minute to ice the game.
Seton Hall played without sophomore forward Ferrakohn Hall, who announced that he was leaving the program to transfer to an undisclosed school. Hall started two days earlier against NJIT, scoring eight points and grabbing four rebounds.
The 6-foot-8 Hall saw his playing time dramatically increase this season and was averaging 5.1 points and 3.4 rebounds over 10 games, starting two.