The Dayton Flyers recorded the most important non-conference victory of the past two seasons, beating the Butler Bulldogs 69-64 on Wednesday in the first round of the Battle 4 Atlantis at Imperial Gym.
Dayton (4-0) led throughout the second half, most of the time by double digits, and then held off a late run by the Bulldogs (3-1) in the first Dayton regular-season game played in a foreign country.
Butler never led in the game. It was tied for 63 seconds in the first half. Dayton had the lead the rest of the time.
The Flyers ended a six-game losing streak against Butler and beat it for the first time since 1991.
Dayton will play Virginia or Middle Tennessee State at 4 p.m. today in the semifinals. You can hear today’s game on AM 1290 and News 95.7 WHIO. Pre-game coverage starts at 3:00 p.m.
Jalen Crutcher led the Flyers with 20 points. Josh Cunningham scored 18.
The Flyers shot 54.3 percent from the field and held Butler to 40 percent shooting. Each team had 34 rebounds. Dayton committed 16 turnovers. Butler had 10.
Both teams struggled at the free-throw line. Dayton made 14 of 23 (60.9 percent). Butler made 9 of 17 (52.9).
Dayton held Butler scoreless for the final four minutes of the first half, building a 37-26 halftime lead.
Butler scored its last points at the free-throw line after Dayton coach Anthony Grant picked up a technical foul at the 4:15 mark. Dayton scored the last seven points of the half.
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Dayton opened the game on a 13-4 run. It made 6 of its first 7 shots. Butler then got hot and tied the game at 15-15.
Cunningham and Crutcher each scored 11 points in the half. Ryan Mikesell scored nine and made all four of his field-goal attempts.
Dayton shot 58.3 percent from the field. Butler shot 33.3 percent.