Without leaving the court for a minute, Jalen Crutcher set a new career-high in points with 26, while adding seven assists. Photo courtesy of Griffin Quinn, Flyer News.
Sports Staff Writer
Dayton kicked off 2021 on the right foot on Saturday night, defeating George Mason 74-65. The Flyers were able to bounce back from their conference opening loss to La Salle on Wednesday, and they did it with confidence.
Dayton brought the energy early this game, starting strong and finishing on top. The players on the floor, the bench and the staff were all rowdy for most of the game. The echoey gym was filled with players blurting out switches and motivating from the bench.
“We’re gonna need everybody on the roster this year because we never know what’s gonna happen,” senior guard Jalen Crutcher said after the game.
Crutcher’s perfect 14 point first half on 6-6 field goal shooting carried over to the second half. Dayton’s point guard and senior leader finished the night with a career-high 26 points and seven assists.
“From the jump, I was just trying to be aggressive,” Crutcher said. “Whatever the team needs, I’m gonna go out there and do it.”
George Mason head coach Dave Paulson was screaming at his team to blanket Crutcher anywhere on the court, but Crutcher’s performance pushed the Flyers to a big win.
Paulson would eventually get ejected from the game in the final minutes, allowing Dayton to extend their lead and keep the win out of the Patriot’s reach.
Ibi Watson and Mustapha Amzil played complimentary roles to Crutcher, both making an impact with little rest. Watson finished with 16 points and five rebounds while Amzil had 15 and six. Watson and Crutcher both played the full 80 minutes, while Amzil sat only a few times.
“We feel like we can win a lot of games if we bring it every night,” Watson said.
Watson and Crutcher helped guide the small roster tonight, which was a challenge due to a severe lack of both experience and depth.
“I try to give them as much confidence as they can. Try to continue to give them confidence because we know we’re gonna need them down the stretch,” Watson said.
Freshman guard Koby Brea made his first career start in place of Rodney Chatman, who missed the game due to an injury. Elijah Weaver and R.J. Blankney were both out again, leaving Dayton with only seven players on scholarship available to play.
The start of the second mirrored the Flyer’s previous game, and Dayton’s energy coming out of the locker room didn’t match that of the first half. George Mason took advantage, starting the second half with a 15-0 run.
Dayton was able to squeeze out the win in the end. Head coach Anthony Grant worked around the obstacles that have been thrown at his team in the last few days.
“We’re obviously down a few people,” Grant said. “What you have to do is focus on what you have, on what you can control.”
The Flyer’s win over George Mason makes them 1-1 in conference play, and 1-0 in 2021. They will try to use the victory as a jumping-off point for games going forward. The team will head to New York on Tuesday to play Fordham, looking for their second A10 win of the season.