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No. 17 Saint Mary’s survives Dayton, lands critical win

St Mary's  v Gonzaga

SPOKANE, WA - JANUARY 22: Emmett Naar #41 of the St. Mary’s Gaels drives against the Gonzaga Bulldogs in the second half at McCarthey Athletic Center on January 22, 2015 in Spokane, Washington. Gonzaga defeated St. Mary’s 68-47. (Photo by William Mancebo/Getty Images)

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No. 17 Saint Mary’s picked up a massive road win on Saturday afternoon as they went into UD Arena and knocked off the Flyers, 61-57.

Calvin Hermanson led the way with 16 points while Jock Landale added 15 points and 14 boards. Dayton was playing without Josh Cunningham, who is out three months with an ankle injury, and Kendall Pollard, who is still battling a thigh problem.

This was a huge win for the Gaels, as Dayton will end up being one of, if not the best team in the Atlantic 10 this season. At full strength, Dayton is a top 25 program that always ends up looking like a good win on the résumé in March, particularly when that win came on the road. Saint Mary’s won 29 games last season, but they missed the NCAA tournament after they put together an ugly non-conference schedule.

The game wasn’t as close as the final score would indicate. Dayton struggled on the offensive end of the floor for the first 32 minutes, digging themselves a 54-34 hole. But the Flyers used a press to fluster Saint Mary’s, who started turning the ball over and missing free throws, and as the crowd started to get into it, Dayton used a 23-5 run to cut the lead to 59-57 with 20 seconds left.

The Flyers then forced a turnover on an inbounds pass, but Xeryius Williams was called for a charge as he tried to score a game-tying layup. Saint Mary’s had their inbounds pass deflected two more times before they finally got the ball in to Emmett Naar, who made two free throws to ice the game.