CINCINNATI – Tu Holloway scored 24 points, including a leaning bank shot with 31 seconds left, and Xavier extended one of college basketball's longest streaks of futility by beating Dayton 81-76 on Saturday night.
The Flyers (14-5, 2-2 Atlantic 10 Conference) haven't won on Xavier's court since Jan. 10, 1981, going 0-26 over the last 30 years. No matter who's coaching or playing, the Musketeers (11-5, 3-0) always manage to come out ahead at home.
Holloway's bank shot put Xavier up 77-74, and the Musketeers made all four free throws down the stretch to close it out. Juwan Staten led Dayton with 17 points.
Xavier has won its last 34 A-10 home games, matching Temple's league record from 1987-91.
The Musketeers haven't lost an A-10 game at home since Saint Joseph's beat them 69-58 on Feb. 28, 2006.
A more astonishing streak was on the line in this one.
For 30 years, the Flyers have made the one-hour drive down Interstate 75 and lost. The two Catholic schools have been through 10 coaches during a streak that spans six U.S. presidents.
The Xavier students reminded the Flyers of their futility by hoisting large color photos of the six presidents under the basket by the Dayton bench.
This figured to be one of the Flyers' best chances of ending the streak. Xavier is essentially down to seven healthy players with experience, leaving the Musketeers vulnerable in a physical, foul-filled game.
Dayton's advantage was evident at the first timeout, when the Flyers substituted four players while Xavier changed only one.
It came down to the final minute.
Dayton had a chance to tie it, but Paul Williams missed a 3 from the right wing. Matt Kavanaugh got the rebound but Kenny Frease blocked his attempt at a putback and took the ball away. Frease was fouled and made both free throws with 9.4 seconds left to seal it, leaving him with 20 points.
Holloway put his mark on the game in the opening minutes, showing confidence in his shot. He hit a 3 and a fadeaway in traffic as Xavier pulled ahead 9-4, the biggest lead by either team in a back-and-forth opening half. There were five ties and eight lead changes in the half, which ended with Dayton ahead 32-31.
Xavier pushed the pace to start the second half. Jamel McLean had a pair of dunks and Holloway made four free throws during an 11-2 run that put Xavier ahead 42-36, matching the biggest lead of the game.
Xavier had chances to pad it, but Dante Jackson missed a pair of uncontested 3s. Jackson missed his first eight shots, six of them from behind the arc.
Jackson finally broke out with a 3 from the right corner that rebuilt Xavier's lead to 65-59 with 5:17 left. Chris Johnson more than matched him, hitting back-to-back 3s from right in front of the Dayton bench that put the Flyers up 68-67 with 3:01 left.
McLean made four free throws, and Mark Lyons had a three-point play off a drive to the basket, putting Xavier ahead to stay 74-68 with 1:54 to go. Holloway's leaning shot put the Musketeers in position to close it out.