Jalen Crutcher (cover photo) had a team-high 16 points in Tuesday’s win over North Texas. Courtesy of Atticus Hughes.
Dayton men’s basketball used their depth and defensive prowess to get the win over North Texas Tuesday night.
The No. 13 Flyers kicked their recent habit of starting relatively slow as they cruised out to an early 14-4 lead. Redshirt sophomore forward Obi Toppin was a big part of this early stretch, but not in the way fans might expect. Dayton’s leading scorer on the season dished out three assists during this early stretch.
“(Obi)’s such a willing passer, that’s also what makes him so good,” graduate forward Ryan Mikesell said. “You know teams are going to double, and even triple-team him. He was willing to make that cross-court pass. We’ll see all sorts of stuff to try and stop him because he is one of the best players in the country.”
Toppin finished the game with 11 points, seven rebounds and six assists.
A couple other players were able to pick up the slack in terms of scoring. Mikesell and junior guard Jalen Crutcher both ended with a team-high 16 points. The Flyers went into the half up 34-19, and the biggest reason was defense.
“I thought our guys set the tone defensively,” head coach Anthony Grant said.
The Flyers forced 20 turnovers on the game, and continued the defensive intensity into the second half. Dayton’s full-court press in particular was causing trouble for the North Texas offense.
“We wanted to make them uncomfortable tonight,” Grant said. “We did a good job taking away some things that they have had success with.”
The Mean Green refused to go down without a fight, as their three-point shooting came to life in the second half.
“We knew coming in that these guys were very capable from the three-point line,” Grant said. “Our guys were able to see how dangerous the three-point line is, and how quickly it can change a game.”
North Texas made nine three-pointers in the second half and cut the Dayton lead to 10 points late. Dayton righted the ship, sailing ashore with a 71-58 win.
Dayton’s next action is in Chicago, where they will face the last big test of the non-conference season, taking on Colorado. The game will be a rematch of the NIT first round last season, when the Flyers lost 79-73.
“We were in good position (last season), but towards the end of the game they made more plays than us,” Mikesell said. “It left a bitter taste in our mouth.”
You can watch the game Saturday on CBS Sports Network at 6:30 p.m.