In a game of crazy runs, and even crazier dunks, Dayton men’s basketball came out victorious over Saint Joseph’s 75-64 on Tuesday night.
“The story of the game was that it was a game of runs,” head coach Anthony Grant said. “Our guys weathered the storm and made a great effort to stick with it.
Going into the game, Dayton knew that SJU’s danger man was redshirt sophomore forward Charlie Brown Jr. (no relation to the “Peanuts” character). Brown is currently the Atlantic-10 conference top scorer (20.1 points-per-game), and he immediately showed why. Brown rattled off ten points on his first four shots of the game, leaving Dayton down seven points early.
“Charlie Brown is one of the more dynamic scorers that we will face,” Grant said.
After Brown’s initial run, Dayton’s adjustments seemed to slow him down. He only scored nine points for the entire rest of the game, and Grant credits freshman guard Dwayne Cohill as one of the big reasons.
“[Cohill] really stepped up to the challenge tonight,” Grant said. “He really made it difficult for him. He was locked to his hip all night.”
The other main catalyst for the early Flyer comeback was redshirt freshman Obi Toppin. As soon as Toppin checked in, he led a 10-0 run, scoring eight points and giving the Flyers a one-point lead.
“Whenever I sub into the game I try to bring a spark so that everyone’s level can be brought up,” Toppin said.
The Flyers carried the momentum through the end of the half and ended the first period on a 20-4 run. However, SJU wasn’t going to go down without a fight. The Hawks heated up to start the second half, and eventually tied the game at 50.
“St. Joe’s had another run in them in the second half,” Grant said. “They had some guys step up tonight from a three-point shooting perspective that hurt us.”
Again, it was Toppin coming to the rescue to dig the Flyers out of a scoring drought. He went on a nine-point scoring surge off the bench that gave Dayton the lead they wouldn’t let go of. Toppin finished with 25 points and 12 rebounds. His tally of seven dunks was only one shy of the Dayton single-game record, which Toppin set earlier this season against Detroit Mercy.
“[Toppin] always surprises with some of the dunks he pulls off,” redshirt junior forward Ryan Mikesell said. “He’ll just grab the ball out of nowhere and dunk it. His God-given talent is crazy.”
Mikesell didn’t have the heroic runs or the high-flying dunks (in fact, he missed his only dunk attempt), but he was a steadying force for Dayton all night. Mikesell finished with 21 points, and he put the game away with a late fadeaway.
“You look at the box score and [Mikesell] shot the ball well which is always great to see ,” Grant said. “Overall he did a great job using his voice tonight. It was great to hear him on the court, and the guys were able to follow him.”
Tuesday night’s win moves Dayton to 6-2 conference record, good for third in the A-10. The Flyers’ next game will be a major test at home. Dayton takes on Duquesne Saturday afternoon in a game that could have major implications on the A-10 standings.
Photo courtesy of Atticus Hughes