KINGSTON — One explosive run doomed the University of Rhode Island men’s basketball team the first time it played the powerhouse Dayton Flyers.
There was no lightning strike in the rematch, just the steady excellence of the nation’s No. 3 team.
The Flyers gained a little more control each time URI hit a scoring drought, building a 16-point halftime lead and staying comfortably in front the rest of the way for an 84-57 victory.
The highest-ranked team to play at the Ryan Center since No. 2 St. Joseph’s in 2004, Dayton is one win away from a perfect Atlantic 10 season.
The game represented Rhody’s best shot at reviving its NCAA Tournament hopes, which took a body blow in Sunday’s loss to Saint Louis. Getting back into contention will remain an uphill battle, likely requiring an Atlantic 10 Tournament title run.
The first meeting between the teams in Dayton on Feb. 4 featured a remarkable start by the Flyers, who raced to a 17-0 lead. The Rams settled in but could never dig out of the hole.
Five early points by Jermaine Harris helped URI get to a 7-7 tie in the rematch, but two 7-0 spurts by the Flyers gave them a lead they would never relinquish.
Jeff Dowtin cut an 11-point lead to eight with a 3-pointer at 4:14, but that would be the Rams' last field goal of the first half. Dayton opened up a 16-point lead, heading to the break shooting at a 50-percent clip.
The Flyers kept Rhody at arm’s length in the second half, never letting the lead dip below 12. Dunks by Obi Toppin kept the Dayton highlight reel humming as the lead ballooned into the 20s and sent fans to the exits.
Toppin scored 20 points, and Jalen Crutcher had 17 for the Flyers. Dowtin led URI with 16, but was the only Ram in double figures. Rhode Island finished the night at 29 percent from the field.