Redshirt junior Ibi Watson had a career-high 30 points in Monday night’s win over Grambling State. Photo from earlier this season courtesy of Griffin Quinn.
Sports Staff Writer
The Flyers put together an all-around game Monday as the defense shut down the Tigers and the scoring duo of Ibi Watson and Rodney Chatman lit up the scoreboard on the way to an 81-53 win.
The match-up between No. 18 Dayton and Grambling State started off physical, as the teams battled to a 6-6 tie through the first two minutes.
Grambling State’s 7’1” big man Travon Bunch was called for two fouls during the opening minutes, one of which was a technical after he pushed Obi Toppin in the back during a break in the action.
Watson and Chatman began to heat up as they poured in seven and six points to give the Flyers a 13-0 run and a 19-6 lead.
“We just had a rhythm today,” said Chatman, who finished with 17 points, six assists and two steals. “It was the last game before break and usually we come out flat and slow. We didn’t want to make that the norm, so we came out feeling it. I hit my first shot and just kept going from there.”
Watson said the flow of the offense, and his hot hand, culminated in his career-high 30-point night.
“I felt good shooting the last couple of days in warm-ups and going through my shooting routines and workouts,” Watson said. “Our offense was great today, we had a lot of great screens, we had the ball moving from side to side, so I felt like it was a combination of both.”
Even without the normal contribution of points from Obi Toppin, Flyers head coach Anthony Grant said the team’s ball movement and movement off the ball has been “a trademark of our team all year.”
Toppin was held to just eight points, but put together an impressive defensive performance, blocking two shots and nabbing a steal to lead the charge as the Flyers kept the Tigers off the scoreboard for several minutes. His atypical scoring performance opened the door for Watson and Chatman to put up career highs in points.
“Everybody was focused on Obi and packing the paint,” Chatman said. “That makes it easier for us, I was seeing a lot of lanes tonight and I took advantage of them.”
At the under 8:00 media timeout, the Flyers had strung together more dominant play and held a 26-10 lead as the Tigers were held to 0% shooting from beyond the three-point line through the first half.
The Flyers also struggled at the free throw line – shooting just 54% in the first half – but controlled the flow of the first 20 minutes on the way to a 40-22 lead at the end of the first half, which was punctuated by a ferocious slam by Toppin.
The defensive effort of Toppin and Jordy Tshimanga to knock away passes and block shots kept the Tigers in check in the first half, while Watson (17) and Chatman (12) led the Flyers offense to a sizable lead at the break.
Grambling State held the status quo to start the second half, trailing 48-30 at the first media timeout of the half. The Tigers turned that around, going on a quick run that at one point cut the Flyers lead to ten.
Kelton Edwards (12 points) and Anthony Gaston (12 points) led the scoring binge for the Tigers, which was cut short at the 4:15 mark by a dagger four-point play by Watson.
The Flyers took a 69-48 lead into the final media timeout and coasted through the final four minutes to wrap the bow on an 81-53 victory over the Tigers.
The Flyers were faced with a quick turnaround after losing 78-76 to Colorado in overtime Saturday, but head coach Anthony Grant was optimistic about how the Flyers responded Monday night.
“Tonight, it was good to see our guys be able to take the court on a quick turnaround,” Grant said. “Obviously, we just played in Chicago this past weekend. Quick prep for us, but I thought our guys came out and did a pretty good job in the first half executing the things that we talked about.”
Dayton now has a week off before their next game Monday, December 30 against North Florida at home. The Flyers improve to 10-2 and will wrap up their non-conference slate against the Ospreys.