The Dayton Flyers were booted from the Atlantic 10 tournament on Friday. They fell to the St. Louis Billikens in the quarterfinals 64-55.
The Atlantic 10 tournament looked like a great opportunity to sneak into the NCAA Tournament for the Flyers, especially with VCU losing earlier in the day, but all hope was lost after a poor showing on Friday night. Dayton committed 16 turnovers while only forcing 9 on the other end of the floor. A big part of this was due to the 1-3-1 zone that the Billikens implemented. It made it a nightmare for a Flyer team that loves feeding their two skilled big men, Cunningham and Toppin, down on the block.
“It hurt us, it was a big factor in the game. We have seen a few different defenses out of them from man, 3-2, 2-3, press, and the 1-3-1. That was the defense they were able to have sustained success with today.” Coach Anthony Grant stated after the game.
A major turning point in the game was when freshman Obi Toppin seemed to pick up an injury on a questionable offensive foul. The big man went back to the locker for a little but returned to the bench with a few minutes left in the first half. Toppin seemed impacted by the injury when he returned to the floor.
Coach Grant spoke on Toppin after the game
“He went out there and he battled and he tried, but obviously he wasn’t what we’re used to seeing out of him.”
Even with all of the negative, this was a close one for a majority of the game. There were an overall 5 lead changes. The Flyers even went into halftime with a 30-29 lead. The wheels started to fall off as the game continued though. The Flyers shot just 34.6% from the field in the second half after shooting a stellar 54.2% in the first.
Despite the Flyers playing relatively flat, Jalen Crutcher did not. Crutcher shot 3-8 from behind the arc and 7-13 from the field for a team high 18 points. Jordan Davis added 12 as well. The sophomore duo combined for 30 of the Flyers 55 points.
The Flyers now hope to snag a bid in the upcoming NIT Tournament.
Coach Grant reflected on the possibility of playing in the NIT: “ We’ll see what the weekend brings, but we would love nothing more then to be able to continue to play.”
I am sure Flyer fans everywhere feel the same way.