Illinois State jumped to a 6-0 lead and held a 39-32 advantage at the half. The Redbirds led by as many as 10 points in the first half, thanks to a tough defense that kept Dayton from getting good looks at the basket.
Both teams shot about 50 percent from the field, with the Redbirds hitting on 26 of 52 shots and the Flyers going 28 of 57.
Illinois State was in control throughout. Dayton grabbed the lead only once, 50-48, with 13 minutes left in the game. That came on a 3-pointer by Sanford during a flurry of 3s by both teams.
Illinois State was 8 for 20 from beyond the arc, while Dayton went 7 for 22.
The normally unflappable Flyers turned the ball over 18 times, compared to only 11 miscues for the Redbirds.
The game was won at the free-throw line, with Illinois hitting 21 of 31 free throws to Dayton's 12 of 20.