Roberto De La Rosa-Finch
Dayton (1-0) extended their home-opener winning streak to 14 with a 78-70 win against North Florida (0-1) Wednesday evening.
Redshirt freshman Obadiah Toppin christened the partially renovated UD Arena with a fastbreak dunk for Dayton’s first points. Toppin, who got the start because redshirt senior forward Josh Cunningham injured his wrist in practice, finished the game with a team-high 18 points and 10 rebounds.
Toppin said Cunningham gave him tips throughout the game and was constantly in his ear every play and timeout. Toppin said the most important thing the senior told him was to have fun.
“Go out there. Play your game,” Toppin said Cunningham and the rest of the team echoed to him.
Junior guard Trey Landers posted another double-double for the Flyers with 15 points and 10 rebounds. Sophomore guard Jordan Davis added 16 points (6-8 FT). Davis was also a perfect 2-2 from three-point range.
North Florida junior forward Noah Horchler had a game-high 19 points (2-4 3FG) and 12 rebounds. Junior guard JT Escobar chipped in with 11 points.
North Florida’s 1-3-1 zone defense couldn’t stop back-door cuts from Toppin and redshirt junior forward Ryan Mikesell. North Florida’s staple is the three-point shot, and they simply could not find the bottom of the net — especially in the second half. Off of missed long shots, Dayton flew down the court and put up 20 fastbreak points.
Coach Anthony Grant was proud of the effort Dayton exhibited with Cunningham out and an experienced North Florida team mixing defenses at them.
“They threw at lot at us tonight,” Grant said. “For a young team to have through man and a multitude of pick-and-roll coverages they threw at us and zone…”
“Overall offensively and defensively, I thought we made some strides, so it’s good to see that in game one,” Grant said.
Cunningham is day-to-day.
Dayton finished with four players scoring in double figures.
North Florida shot 8-21 from three-point range (2-6 in the second half).
Mikesell scored 12 points with six coming from behind the arc.
Sophomore guard Jalen Crutcher (nine points, four assists) and Toppin dealt with cramps late the game. Toppin was helped off the floor in the second half but returned after several minutes.
Dayton will keep their planes at the home airbase to face Coppin State (0-1) 7 p.m. Saturday at UD Arena.
Coppin State lost their season-opener Tuesday to Wisconsin, 63-85.