Jalen Crutcher’s (cover photo) 19 points in the first half made up for sloppy performance in the second half. Courtesy of Griffin Quinn
If you were waiting to watch the Dayton Flyers take on the St. Mary’s College Gaels on ESPNU, then you missed the only time that Dayton was trailing at Talking Stick Resort Arena in Phoenix, Arizona.
Due to scheduling conflicts, coverage of the Jerry Colangelo Classic game did not begin until after the Flyers had cracked open an early 10-0 run after the Gaels knocked down a three-pointer to open the game.
Jalen Crutcher opened the game shooting lights out. The junior guard missed just one three-pointer and his 19 first-half points put the Flyers up 46-25 headed to the break.
It was a tale of two halves, though.
Out of the locker room, Dayton was flat. A second-half 16-2 run by St. Mary’s turned what had looked like a Maui-reminiscent blowout into a mistake-ridden contest that couldn’t have ended sooner for the Flyers.
Sloppy second-half play on both ends of the court for the Flyers, which included a spree of unforced turnovers for Dayton and the allowance of 43 points, allowed St. Mary’s to pull the game within eight points with 00:50 remaining.
However, the Dayton squad ultimately stifled their California opponent, completing a near coast-to-coast performance, and pulled out a 78-68 victory.
Crutcher, who added just two points to his halftime total, finished as Dayton’s highest scorer with 21 points while also having six assists. Obi Toppin had a (relatively) quiet performance with 16 points off of 7-13 shooting. Meanwhile, Trey Landers scored 15 while grabbing eight rebounds.
Statistically, it was the most impressive win of the season, having defeated a top-50 Ken Pomeroy St. Mary’s team at a neutral location. Previously, Dayton had not beaten an opponent ranked higher than 61 overall (which came from a Maui Invitational win over Virginia Tech). The St. Mary’s victory will surely be highlighted on the Flyers’ NCAA tournament resume in the spring.
With the win, the No. 19 Flyers improve to 7-1 on the season while the Gaels drop to 9-2.
Dayton will return from Phoenix for a Dec. 14 matchup against the Drake Bulldogs (8-2). Tip-off from UD Arena is set for 7 p.m. ET. The game can be viewed on ESPN+.