Roberto De La Rosa-Finch
Forwards Josh Cunningham and Obi Toppin led the way with combined 50 points as Dayton (6-5) defeated the Western Michigan Broncos (5-6) in a 85-72 Wednesday night win.
Senior Cunningham put up 28 points on 10-13 shooting and grabbed eight rebounds. Redshirt freshman Toppin was a perfect 11-11 from the field — tying the single-game school and Atlantic 10 record — and added 22 points and six rebounds.
Western Michigan center Seth Dugan entered the game averaging 16.6 PPG and 9.9 RPG. The Flyers held the seven-footer to four points and one rebound (2-5 FG).
“It was tough,” Cunningham said in response to guarding Dugan. “Very long … We didn’t want to get him going. (Trapping) really helped out a lot. The guys helped out tremendously.”
Dayton continually trapped Dugan in the post and denied him the ball. Without flowing thru Dugan, Western Michigan’s offense faltered and low percentage, long-range shots ensued.
The Broncos would find their stroke from deep in the second half (three made threes in the first, six in the second), but the Flyers maintained their lead with Cunningham’s strength and Toppin’s bounce.
Sophomore guard Jalen Crutcher started off hot, scoring 12 in the first half — all coming from behind the arc (4-5 3FG in the first half). Crutcher abused the screens from Cunningham, and Western Michigan guard kept going under.
He finished with 14 points and 10 assists — his first double-double of the season. This also marked Crutcher’s ninth straight game scoring in double-digits.
“I look at 10 assists, one turnover,” Coach Anthony Grant said. “That’s what stands out to me. He did a great job taking care of the basketball and finding his teammates.”
Western Michigan closed the deficit to seven with 9:32 left in the second, but Dayton soared thru the pressure, continued to get out in transition and make their free throws (89.5 percent — season average coming in: 67.1 percent)
“(Western Michigan) made a run. Cut it to seven. And I then I thought our guys really answered the bell,” Grant said. “So it was good to see us finish the way that we finished… lot of lessons that we, hopefully, will be able to take away from that game.”
Western Michigan sophomore guard Michael Flowers had a team-high 20 points (7-12 FG, 3-4 3FG) making this his fifth straight game scoring in double figures. Fellow guard, senior Josh Davis, dropped 17 (3-6 3FG).
Sophomore guard Jordan Davis continues his shooting slump. He didn’t record a field goal (0-4) and finished with three points
Western Michigan came in with a +6 rebounding margin (No. 50 in the country). Dayton held them to a season-low 21 team rebounds
Dayton had 54 points in the paint, 63.5 percent of their total points
Western Michigan only led for 2:10
Toppin had six dunks. He also received a technical with 44 seconds left for standing over Davis after stuffing his shot at the rim. In return, on the next possession, he had a reverse alley-oop dunk from Crutcher that turned the crowd’s boos into cheers.
Dayton will host Presbyterian at 2 p.m. on Friday.
Western Michigan heads home to face Milwaukee Friday at 3 p.m.
Photos courtesy of Alex Wong.