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DAYTON, Ohio (AP) — Steve McElvene is the big man No. 25 Dayton didn't have the past two seasons. Big Steve is making a difference for a much deeper and more versatile team.
McElvene dominated the lane in the first half Wednesday night, scored 13 points, altered shots and helped Dayton roll to a 93-63 victory over Massachusetts.
McElvene is a 6-foot-11, 268-pound redshirt freshman who was recruited by Dayton (12-2, 2-0 Atlantic 10) as a project. But almost 70 pounds later, half-hook moves with either hand and shot-blocking ability have accelerated the project.
"When he gets the ball in tight areas he's got great touch," Dayton coach Archie Miller said.
A big night free from his usual foul trouble was needed from McElvene after second-leading scorer Kendall Pollard strained his Achilles tendon at practice Tuesday. Pollard is day-to-day.
Dyshawn Pierre, a senior forward in his third game back from suspension, made his first start in place of Pollard. Pierre, who led the Flyers in scoring and rebounding last year, scored 11 points and had a team-high eight rebounds.
McElvene and Pierre combined for 19 first-half points and nine rebounds. When the offense stalled and allowed UMass (8-6, 1-1) to cut the lead from by six to 28-20, McElvene and Pierre returned and led a 12-4 run to close the half for a 40-24 lead.
"He's bigger than he looked on tape," UMass coach Derek Kellogg said. "He did a great job of controlling the paint in the first half. And when they needed some baskets, they were able to throw it down low to him."
McElvene scored with a left-handed half-hook then got a layup on a pick-and-roll with Pierre on consecutive possessions. The right-handed McElvene finished the run with his strong hand for eight points in the final 4:42 of the half.
"He got us going a little bit," Miller said. "I was pleased not only with his offense but I was pleased with his lack of fouling."
Charles Cooke is another new face for the Flyers after transferring from James Madison. He continues to lead the Flyers in scoring and had 18 against UMass, including 14 in the second half after sitting out 11 minutes of the first half with foul trouble.
"Charles by far and away is a very impactful guy on this team," Miller said.
Miller, who had only six or seven players at his disposal last year, can go nine to 11 deep this year. Six scored in double figures against UMass. Kyle Davis and freshman backup point guard John Crosby scored 11 apiece, and freshman center Sam Miller added 10 off the bench.
Dayton was also strong on defense, scoring 26 points off 16 UMass turnovers. The Flyers forced 10 turnovers in the first half and converted them into 17 points. They held the Minutemen to 44 percent shooting, while shooting 56.7 percent.
"They're a really good team at home, probably one of the best teams in the country in this arena," UMass coach Derek Kellogg said.
Massachusetts: The Minutemen had won two straight and three of four. The loss was to then-No. 10 Providence by 24 points. ... Dayton handed UMass its worst defeat of the season and the second against a ranked team.
Dayton: Turnovers have been a problem for the Flyers in most games, averaging slightly more than their opponents. But against UMass the Flyers committed only four in the first half and 12 for the game. They forced the Minutemen into 10 turnovers in the first and 16 for the game. Dayton had a 17-2 advantage in points off turnovers in the first half and 26-8 for the game.
TOP 25 FLYERS
Dayton was ranked 22nd for one week in January last season. The Flyers beat Richmond during that week, but a loss to Davidson four days previous cost the Flyers their spot in the poll. Dayton is 5-3 when ranked No. 25 and 69-9 at home as a ranked team.
Massachusetts: The Minutemen meet St. Bonaventure on Saturday in their first A-10 home game.
Dayton: The Flyers play their second A-10 road game Saturday at La Salle.
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