DAYTON, Ohio -- Lucky is always better than good, but even luck can't overcome turnovers.
Cody Ellis banked home a game-tying three with 1.1 seconds remaining in regulation against the Dayton Flyers but could not overcome costly turnovers down the stretch to lose the A-10 conference opener 79-72.
"Obviously that shot was big for us and gave us momentum swing," Ellis said. "But they came out in overtime a little tougher than us, and we did not do what we needed to do."
"We made some bad decisions tonight, " coach Rick Majerus said. "And credit Dayton's defense for causing that. They are a veteran team and played with a greater degree of purpose."
Brian Conklin led the way for the Billikens scoring 14 points. Dwayne Evans had a solid game with 12 points and seven rebounds as Saint Louis drops to 12-3 on the season.
Southern Illinois transfer Kevin Dillard made himself at home in his first game in Atlantic 10 action, scoring 18 points and dishing out 10 assists to lead the Flyers.
Dillard was a force all night, knocking down pressure free throws and getting to the basket at-will all night.
"He is a tremendous talent," Majerus said. "Quick and athletic, goes both direction and sees the floor. It is part his great ability and part our need to play better defense."
Dayton played their first game without junior forward Josh Benson, who suffered a torn ACL in the Flyers last game against Ole Miss. Benson's offense was missed, as he was second on the team in scoring (10.9) and rebounds (5.2), but a balanced attack from Luke Fabrizus and Alex Gavrilovic off the bench helped overcome his loss.
Gavrilovic finished with 12 points and seven rebounds and Fabrizus finished with 11, going 3 of 6 from behind the arc.
Dayton did not have a lead in the first half until Dillard's three-pointer over Cody Ellis with 3:54 left before halftime gave the Flyers their first lead of the game at 28-26. A turnover on the following possession by Jordair Jett brought a welcome media timeout for the Billikens, who were able to recoup and tie the game on a Cody Ellis steal which lead to a dunk on the other end by Jett.
SLU took a 36-28 lead into halftime, holding the Flyers to 35.7 shooting going 10-28 from the field.
Kwamain Mitchell and Brian Conklin both picked up their third fouls early in the second half, forcing the Billiken reserves to step up and Majerus to be crafty with his situational substitutions.
"The foul problems hurt us," Majerus said. "We had guys playing a lot more minutes than I would have like. We got their bigs in foul trouble, and then we lost those two guys (Mitchell and Conklin). "
Not much went right for SLU in the second half, only hitting nine of their 31 shot attempts.
"We had too many high peaks and too many low lows," Ellis said. "We have to try and limit the ups and downs and keep it constant the whole game."
At times in overtime it seemed as if the Billikens were trying to do too much.
"We thought we had to try and win it in the first two minutes," Ellis said. "We had some dumb fouls. I think we went away from what we usually do."
The Billikens will try to right the ship on Saturday at home against George Washington.