Dayton (13-3, 3-1 Atlantic 10) trailed 46-45 when the Flyers went on a 19-1 spree that included six points from Darrell Davis.
The Wildcats (10-5, 2-2) got within six after a 5-0 spurt with under a minute to go. But three free throws countered a final 3-pointer by Peyton Aldridge.
Scoochie Smith led Dayton with 18 points, Davis added 14 and Kendall Pollard, who missed the previous two games with an injury, also had 14. The Flyers' leading scorer, Charles Cooke, sat out with a strained oblique.
Jack Gibbs, the A-10's leading scorer, had 31 points for Davidson, despite going scoreless for the first 12:20 of the second half. He had 18 in the first half. Aldridge added 15 points and 10 rebounds.