Roberto De La Rosa-Finch
The Dayton Flyers soared higher than the Georgia Southern Eagles when it mattered most in their 94-90 win Saturday afternoon. Both Dayton (8-5) and Georgia Southern (8-5) wrapped up their non-conference play with the matchup.
Dayton senior forward Josh Cunningham led all scorers with 25 (10-14 FG) and fellow forward, redshirt sophomore Obi Toppin, wasn’t far behind with 22 (9-10 FG).
This is the third time Cunningham and Toppin have each put up 20+ points in the same game this season.
Georgia Southern had its own couple of 20+ scorers. Redshirt sophomore guard Quan Jackson had a team-high 24 points (9-18 FG), and senior guard Tookie Brown dropped 20 and six assists.
The game was filled with back and forth scoring and emotion, but Dayton prevailed in the final minutes.
“I thought we made some plays down the stretch that were able to secure the win for us,” Dayton Coach Anthony Grant said postgame.
The Flyers led by as much as 15 in the second half and were up by 11 after a fastbreak, in-between-the-legs slam from Toppin with 6:05 left.
The dunk sent Toppin and the crowd into a frenzy, but in the midst of the excitement, Brown hit a corner three to bring the score to 71-79.
The Eagles called timeout, and Grant pulled Toppin aside to discuss the risqué dunk.
“(Grant) said, ‘Make sure next time, you look at the clock and see the situation you was in,’” Toppin said postgame. “I didn’t even know it was a close game.”
Led by Brown’s nine points since the trè after Toppin’s dunk, Georgia Southern continued to stayed focused and was only down by one with 2:08 left.
Yet, on the next possession, sophomore guard Jordan Davis — who came in shooting 25.5 percent from three — got a pass from Crutcher and rose for a corner three to put Dayton up, 90-86.
Davis might have built up some confidence after an 18 point performance last game against Presbyterian.
Junior forward Ryan Mikesell used his length to force a missed transition layup from Jackson, and four free throws from Crutcher sealed the win.
- Georgia Southern’s senior big-man Montae Glenn went down 16 seconds into the game and did not return. Coming in, he led the Eagles in field goal percentage (57.5) and rebounding (5.3)
- Seven of Dayton’s eight wins have come at home
- Georgia Southern came into the matchup ranked 11th in the nation in scoring offense (87.0 PPG). This was their first loss this season when they scored 90 or more.
- Toppin is averaging 73.3 percent from the field. No, that’s not a typo.
- Dayton outscored Georgia Southern by 20 points in the paint (58-38)
Dayton will begin its Atlantic 10 play in the new year hosting Richmond on Jan. 6, 2019, at noon.
Georgia Southern travels to Texas State for its first Sun Belt game on Jan. 3, 2019. The game is scheduled for 8 p.m.