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PHILADELPHIA (AP) DaRon Holmes II is having the type of season that has the Dayton forward on the radar for national achievements. The All-America team, for sure. At this rate, the NBA draft has to be on the horizon for the star junior.

His stock is trending up - and so are the Flyers.

Holmes scored 22 points and Javon Bennett and Nate Santos each scored 13 to lead No. 16 Dayton to its 13th straight win, 66-54 over La Salle on Tuesday night.

The Flyers (16-2, 6-0 Atlantic 10) made the biggest upward move this week in The Associated Press men’s college basketball poll, gaining six places after wins over Saint Louis and Rhode Island.

Holmes added eight rebounds and four assists just a day after he won or shared the A-10 conference player of the week award for the third time this month.

“I think he's done what we expect him to do,” Dayton coach Anthony Grant said. “He's put the work in. He's doing what we all know he's capable of doing.”

Andres Marrero led La Salle (10-9, 1-5) with 13 points. The Explorers have lost four straight games.

The Flyers escaped another upset at Tom Gola Arena, this time against a La Salle team coached by Fran Dunphy.

The 75-year-old Dunphy reached 600 career wins this season and made a habit of leading former teams Temple and Penn to big-time wins over Top 25 teams. He even coached quite a few ranked teams at Temple.

He nearly got his signature win at La Salle.

Tunde Vahlberg Fasasi and Marrero buried consecutive 3s and Anwar Gill, who missed the last four games with an ankle injury, converted the and-1 that made it 45-40. Jhamir Brickus hit La Salle’s sixth 3 that made it 48-45 and put Dayton on the ropes. Marrero’s second 3 of the half continued to keep the Explorers in the game, pulling them within 55-48.

“I thought we did some good things, actually a lot of good things,” Dunphy said. “But we fell down a couple of times. Against this team, you can't.”

The Flyers haven’t lost since mid-November, with Holmes largely leading the way. Dayton won its first five A-10 games by an average of 13.2 points, and just missed the mark in this one.

Kobe Elvis buried a 3 and followed with another bucket for a 32-19 lead in the first half that started to bust the game open. Holmes - at No. 38, the highest-ranked high school recruit to ever sign with Dayton - threw down a thunderous jam in the second for a 15-point lead, the largest of the game.

Holmes made 9 of 16 shots and had two blocked shots. He's already Dayton's career leader in blocks.

“He understands his process,” Grant said. “He came to us because he saw an opportunity to play early, to play a system that fit his style of play. To play with a group of guys that he felt a connection to, and a relationship with.”

BIG PICTURE

Dayton: The Flyers survived a traditional tough game for them. They lost a shot at a share of the A-10 title in 2015 with a loss to a .500 La Salle team at Gola. In 2022, a 20-win Dayton team failed to strengthen its credentials for an at-large bid with a loss to a seven-win La Salle team, also in Philly.

La Salle: It’s been 70 years since La Salle won its lone national championship. Tom Gola, a three-time All-America, led the program to consecutive trips to the NCAA championship game in 1954 and 1955. The Explorers won the 1954 national championship and then, almost nothing after ’55. They won a single tournament game in 1983 and 1990 and haven't returned for March Madness since a Sweet 16 run in 2013.

Dunphy was coaxed out of retirement last season to lead the program where he served as co-captain and helped the Explorers to a 23-1 record in 1969 under Gola.

UP NEXT

Dayton plays Saturday at Richmond. Richmond entered Tuesday night at 5-0 in the A-10.

La Salle plays Saturday at George Washington.

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