Junior guard Jalen Crutcher played a crucial role in Tuesday night’s win over VCU, notching 20 points and five assists. Photo courtesy of Griffin Quinn.
Sports Staff Writer
Dayton beat conference foe VCU 79-65 in a smash-mouth matchup to improve to 15-2, 4-0 in A10 play. The game was highlighted by hard fouls, technicals and, of course, plenty of Obi Toppin dunks.
This was the first time since before UD students left for Christmas break that the Red Scare was full, and there is no doubt that their efforts played a part in the victory. Every whistle was met with cheers or jeers coming from the Flyer Faithful. There were a couple moments when the crowd ignited and the building shook, like when Toppin pulled a breakaway dunk back with his go-go-gadget arm to destroy yet another innocent basketball hoop rim.
VCU started the game with a full-court press, which they would stick to for the full 40 minutes. Dayton struggled with the pressure at times, giving up 20 turnovers.
“The coach in me looks at [the turnovers] and knows we have to continue to get better,” head coach Anthony Grant said. “At the same time, I’m proud of the character and resiliency that our guys showed to be able to battle and to build a substantial lead.”
The game was back-and-forth throughout the first half, with plenty of lead changes to go around. Dayton’s turnovers and VCU’s offensive boards allowed the Rams to hang around in the game, and their physical play set the tone throughout the first 20 minutes.
A tie-up led to a VCU player ripping redshirt junior guard Rodney Chatman to the floor about halfway through the first half. This led to technicals on both sides after a scrum followed the hard foul.
“It’s a physical game, especially when you’re playing a really scrappy team,” senior Trey Landers said. “We knew that coming in.”
Landers finished with 16 points and nine rebounds, four of the rebounds coming on the offensive glass. Landers’ relentless motor led to rebounds and recovered loose balls, allowing for some valuable second-chance points.
Going into half, Dayton was able to make it a two-possession game by forcing a turnover on one end that led to free-throws on the other.
After a sluggish start to the second half, Dayton started to pick up the energy following an alley-oop from graduate forward Ryan Mikesell to Toppin. This was followed by a no look dish from junior guard Jalen Crutcher to Toppin for a huge dunk on the ensuing possession, which was again followed by a big block by Toppin on the defensive end and a wide open Landers three on the other.
Multiple dunks and buckets later, Dayton was looking back at a 22-0 run
“I didn’t know that it was a 22-0 run, that’s amazing,” Toppin said. “We had the crowd on our side and we have the number one fans in the world. Them cheering for us was amazing.”
Following the run, Dayton rode out their comfortable lead to the finish.
Crutcher went down with a foot injury near the six minute mark in the second half, but he was able to come back onto the game to see it out. He even tossed a final exclamation point lob to Toppin as fans were beginning to depart.
Dayton will try to continue their unbeaten streak within the A10 on Friday when they take on Saint Louis on the road. SLU is 14-3 overall and 3-1 in conference play this season. The Flyers are looking for revenge for last year, when they went 0-2 on the season against the conference opponent.