Anthony Grant: ‘Big-time play’ by Ibi Watson in final minute of Dayton’s victory

Dayton's Ibi Watson dribbles against George Mason on Tuesday, Feb. 25, 2020, at EagleBank Arena in Fairfax, Va.

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Dayton's Ibi Watson dribbles against George Mason on Tuesday, Feb. 25, 2020, at EagleBank Arena in Fairfax, Va.

Watson breaks out of scoring slump with nine points against George Mason

Ibi Watson described himself as an over-worker. Coaches sometimes have to kick him out of the gym. He would shoot all day if he could.

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In recent weeks, Watson has resisted the urge to work his way out of a slump by shooting too much in practice. He stuck to his normal routine even after missing nine straight 3-pointers in the previous five games.

Watson missed his first two 3-pointers Tuesday in Dayton's 62-55 victory at George Mason but made his third. He finished 1 of 4 from 3-point range. Inside the arc, he was a perfect 3-of-3, and that included the most important shot of the night, a jump in traffic in the paint with 45 seconds remaining.

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George Mason cut Dayton's lead to 57-55 on a layup by Xavier Johnson with 1:18 to play. Watson's shot on the next possession gave No. 4 Dayton, which clinched a share of the Atlantic 10 championship with the victory, the cushion it needed in the final minute to avoid the upset.

"Usually, we try to get the ball to Jalen (Crutcher) in those situations," Watson said. "He's really good with the ball. They denied him. It was kind of next man up. I felt I had a good matchup, and I tried to take advantage of it."

Watson scored nine points on 4-of-7 shooting in 23 minutes. It was his highest-scoring game since he had 14 points against Richmond on Jan. 25. That ended a seven-game streak in which he scored in double digits every game.

Dayton needed Watson's production off the bench on a night when Ryan Mikesell, Rodney Chatman and Trey Landers combined for 17 points, about 10 below what they average as a group.

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"I thought (Watson) came out with great confidence in the second half," Dayton coach Anthony Grant said. "He was able to see what was needed, and we needed a boost. The one he hit late was the biggest one of all. That was a big-time play."

Watson talked to different people about his shooting slump and was reminded that everyone goes through it. That hasn't made it any easier. He said it was a frustrating process, but it was good to see some shots fall as Dayton (26-2, 15-0) won its 17th straight game.

"I work so hard on my shot," Watson said. "I always think every shot I take is going to go in. I'm just going to try to build on this."

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

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Dayton Flyers highlights: Key plays from last 10 minutes vs. George Mason

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

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