(Photo credit: David Yeazell-USA TODAY Sports)
DaRon Holmes II scored 14 of his 21 points after halftime as Dayton took control midway through the second half and beat St. John's 88-81 Friday afternoon in the semifinals of the Charleston (S.C.) Classic.
Dayton (3-1) will face the winner of Friday's later game between No. 6 Houston or Utah in Sunday's championship game. St. John's (2-2) will face the loser in a consolation game on Sunday.
After being held to eight points in Dayton's comeback win over LSU in the opening round, Holmes made 6 of 14 shots and eight of nine free throws. He registered eight points when Dayton finished the game by outscoring St. John's 37-25 over the final 13-plus minutes.
Nate Santos added 13 of his 18 in the second half as Dayton shot 51.9 percent after halftime and 51.8 percent overall. Koby Brea, Kobe Elvis and Enoch Cheeks contributed 10 apiece for the Flyers.
Joel Soriano led St. John's with 21 and nine rebounds but went scoreless in the final 8:03 and fouled out late in the game. Jordan Dingle added 14 and Dannis Jenkins contributed 12 as the Red Storm shot 48.4 percent but also committed 14 turnovers.
Soriano scored 14 points in a competitive opening half that ended with St. John's holding a 40-38 lead and in the final minute he converted a dunk and a 3-pointer. The Red Storm opened a 48-42 lead on Dingle's jumper a little over three minutes into the second half and held a 56-51 edge when Jenkins banked in a jumper with 13:25 left.
Dayton roared back with a 19-5 run and opened a 70-61 lead when Brea hit a corner 3 with 8:17 remaining and took its first double-digit lead when Santos finished off a 3-point play to make it 73-63 with 7:02 left. Soriano picked up his fourth foul with 4:43 remaining and Holmes hit three free throws for a 79-70 edge before Brea's dunk made it 81-72 with 3:34 remaining.
Things got a little chippy with 1:52 remaining when Brea shoved Taylor from behind in the lane. Taylor slightly retaliated and both players were handed technical and personal fouls and Santos finished it off with a 3-point play to make it a 12-point game with 93 seconds left.
--Field Level Media