UD Men’s Basketball continued its perfect start Tuesday night against Omaha. Cover photo courtesy of Atticus Hughes
In their last game before leaving for Hawaii to go play in the Maui Jim Maui Invitational, Dayton men’s basketball pulled away early and never relinquished the lead Tuesday night, beating Omaha 93-68.
“I think our team took a step tonight, especially on the defensive end,” head coach Anthony Grant said. “The story of the game was the effort that our guys played with.”
Coming out of the first media timeout, the game was tied 10-10. Whatever Grant said during the break clearly worked, as Dayton’s defense completely locked down the Omaha offense. UD went on a 15-2 run, stopping Omaha from scoring for almost eight minutes during that stretch.
“Everybody knew what they were doing defensively, and it showed in the first half,” redshirt sophomore Obi Toppin said. “Overall, I feel like we did really good defensively.”
Toppin was Dayton’s top scorer for the third game in a row, dropping 21 points. Dayton’s overall offense took a very socratic approach.
“Our guys had joy moving the ball,” Grant said. “Regardless of whether the shot went in or not, the ball moved, they shared it, and they got guys great shots. It was great to see.”
Dayton has had over 20 assists as a team in every game this season, racking up 21 tonight. Five players scored in double-figures Tuesday including Toppin, redshirt senior Ryan Mikesell (16), redshirt junior Rodney Chatman (13), senior Trey Landers (11) and redshirt junior Ibi Watson, who had 11 points and the best game of his young Dayton career.
“Overall [Ibi] is a great player, he knows the game,” Toppin said.
The Flyers led 24-43 at halftime, but the Mavericks weren’t going down quietly. Omaha made a short run to cut the lead to 15 in the second half led by guard JT Gibson, who finished the game with 21 points.
“The game was in balance at around the 10 minute mark, our guys had to answer the bell,” Grant said. “[Omaha] had good players tonight. We were able to do what we had to do to get a convincing win.”
Dayton was able to tighten up on both ends of the floor and close out the convincing win.
The next test will be in Maui, where the first game will be next Monday against Georgia. Despite the step up in the level of competition, Grant isn’t worried.
“I don’t think our team lacks any confidence,” Grant said. “It’s about the habits and the approach we take, understanding what it takes to accomplish our goals.”
If you’re not making the trip to Maui, you can watch Monday’s game on ESPN2 at 2:30 p.m.