Dayton Flyers: 11 observations about their 11th win

Grant likes the way Flyers disrupted North Florida’s 3-point shooting

A 33-second sequence early in the second half Monday showed why the No. 20 Dayton Flyers will enter a new decade at the top of their game with hopes of a dream season soaring.

» PHOTOS: Flyers vs. Ospreys

The Flyers owned a 45-32 lead against North Florida when Jalen Crutcher penetrated the paint at the free-throw line and lobbed an alley-oop pass to his favorite target, Obi Toppin.

After a defensive stop, Crutcher pushed the pace and passed to Rodney Chatman in the corner in front of the Dayton bench. Chatman dribbled toward the basket and found Toppin for another alley-oop dunk.

Chatman then stole the in-bounds pass, waited for Ryan Mikesell to get back on offense and found him streaking down the lane. Mikesell delivered the third dunk in a row — just one of many highlights in a 77-59 victory that left Dayton with an 11-2 mark at the end of non-conference play.

“As we close out the non-conference,” Dayton coach Anthony Grant said, “I told the guys they’ve done a great job of continuing to be locked in — in terms of how we get better as a team and build the habits we need as we approach conference.”

Before Dayton heads to Philadelphia for its first two Atlantic 10 Conference games — Thursday at La Salle and Sunday at Saint Joseph’s — here are 11 observations about its 11th victory.

1. Starring role: Toppin set a school record with 10 dunks, breaking the mark of eight he sat last season against Detroit. He also scored a career-high 31 points, surpassing his 29-point performance against Indiana State in the opener this season. He made 15 of 19 2-point field goals.

2. Rough game: Rodney Chatman left the game after falling and hitting his head on Trey Landers' knee in the first half. He returned at the start of the second half. Trey Landers and Jordy Tshimanga both suffered bloody noses.

» FIRST 12 GAMES: Highlights from Dayton’s play in non-conference action

3. Strong defense: The Ospreys, who refer to themselves as the "Birds of Trey" on social media entered the game with the most made 3-pointers (179) in the country. They made 12 of 28 (42.9 percent) against Dayton. However, they shot 42 percent overall from the field and committed 21 turnovers.

“I thought our guys did a great job of limiting the way they get 3s,” Grant said. “They made 12. They got 28 of them up. But I thought we were very disruptive in terms of limiting the way they got them.”

4. Scoring comparison: The 18-point loss was North Florida's worst of the season. Six of North Florida's opponents have ranked in the top 70 of the Ken Pomeroy rankings, including No. 9 Dayton.

“I have a lot of respect and appreciation for coach (Matthew) Driscoll and his team,” Grant said. “I watched several of their games this year. They are a problem just in terms of not only the number of 3s they get up but in the pace they play at. They’ve got veterans. They’ve got a senior-laden team that has a chance to be really good.”

North Florida lost by 15 to Florida and Iowa, by nine to Creighton, by 17 to Florida State and by 12 to Syracuse.

5. Lopsided victories: Since beating Indiana State 86-81 on Nov. 9 in the first game of the season, Dayton has won 10 games — all by at least 10 points.

6. Back from injury: Crutcher missed the previous game against Grambling State because he was in concussion protocol after a hard fall against Colorado. He returned to action and scored 11 points in 30 minutes.

» ATLANTIC 10: Breaking down conference’s performance in non-conference play

7. Still absent: Dayton forward Chase Johnson missed his fifth straight game. He remains at home with his family in Ripley, W.Va.

Dayton released a statement before the game about Johnson: “Chase Johnson is doing well as he recovers from post-concussive stress syndrome. He is continuing to make great strides and is looking forward to joining the team when he is medically cleared.”

8. All-around effort: Landers scored 15 points on 6-of-10 shooting for Dayton. He had two steals on in-bounds plays to set up scores.

“I’m just trying to do what I do to help my team win,” Landers said.

» LOOKING AHEAD: Early look at 2020-21 roster

9. Milestone game: Mikesell dunked twice and scored nine points in his 100th game as a Flyer.

10. Familiar story: Dayton shot 55 percent in the first half and led 42-28 at halftime thanks to a dunk by Toppin in the final seconds. The Flyers have led at the half in every game this season.

11. Opposing viewpoint: Driscoll said his team was unable to recover from Dayton's big runs in the first half. The Flyers trailed 12-8 when they started a 12-0 run and had a 28-22 lead when they started another 12-0 run later in the half.

“Give Dayton credit for not allowing us to get close once they built a lead,” he said. “They were able to pressure us into doing things out of character for us instead of just doing the fundamental things. Our non-conference is over and it is what it is. We have to wash it out and move forward into (Atlantic Sun) play, which is the most critical part of what we are trying to do.”

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