Dayton (3-0) stays hot early in the season with a 91-80 win over Purdue Fort Wayne (2-3) Friday night.
Redshirt senior Josh Cunningham played in his first game of the year after missing the first two due to a wrist injury. And Cunningham didn’t show any ill-effects,jumping back onto the court and finishing with a team-high 20 points (9-10 FG) on the night.
This game was the first time the Flyers faced adversity this season, trailing the Mastodons 47-42 at the end of the first half. But Dayton turned it around in the second half, ending the game on a 20-4 run.
“We knew we needed to make a run, so we locked in defensively,” Cunningham said. “That’s what got us going on the offensive side.”
The Mastodons took the lead in the first half quickly due to their offense, shooting 10-17 at the three-point line. PFW senior Karson Harrell had 13 of the teams 47 points at halftime. However, Dayton slowed down their shooting success in the second.
Another key player of the night for the Flyers was junior Trey Landers, who shot six-of-nine with 15 points overall, nine of which contributed to the team’s scoring steak in the second. Landers said the Flyers can benefit from having to fight for the win in the second half.
“It was good for us, we haven’t faced much adversity this year,” Landers said. “I thought we did a good job coming together and bouncing back. We are more of an all-together team; I can tell we’re going in the right direction.”
Head coach Anthony Grant was pleased with the team’s overall performance in their first tough game of the season. Grant highlighted junior Jhery Matos’ defensive contribution to the team’s success in the second half. Matos finished with assists on the night and was a key component in controlling PFW’s success.
“I thought Jerry Matos was big for us,” Grant said. “He did a good job keeping the ball in front, and he was able to get his hands on some balls and create some opportunities for us. Defensively, he gave us a big time lift.”
Dayton looks forward to their week in the Bahamas, where they are scheduled to face Butler (3-0) first on Wednesday, November 21 at 7 p.m. The players are anticipating to continue their hot streak against some big teams in the Battle for Atlantis but are not looking at it as a trip to paradise.
“It’s not a vacation,” Cunningham said. “It’s a business trip.”
Photo courtesy of Griffin Quinn.