Crutcher building legacy as one of Dayton’s all-time greats

Senior guard rises to 24th in career scoring

The official Twitter account of the Dayton Flyers men’s basketball team shared a photo Tuesday night of Jalen Crutcher making a 3-pointer late in a 76-71 victory at No. 22 Saint Louis.

Unless fans looked closely, they may not have noticed the words “Chaifetz Arena” on the court in the background of the photo had been changed to “Crutcher Arena.”

Crutcher played four games at the home of the Billikens in his career, averaging 18.3 points. He delivered two of his signature performances in the last two seasons, scoring 21 points and making the game-winning 3-pointer in overtime in 2020 and scoring 14 of his 27 points in the last 4:01 in his final game at the arena Tuesday.

“I love that arena” Crutcher said.

Crutcher, of course, has played well all over the Atlantic 10 Conference in the last four seasons. He’s one of those players opponents see and ask, “He’s still playing?” That’s because he’s played such a big role since the beginning.

Crutcher has appeared in 107 games in his career, starting 97. He has moved into 24th place on the career scoring list with 1,416 points. He passed Brooks Hall (1,404) and Garry Roggenburk (1,398) with 27 points against Saint Louis. He has also moved into fourth place in career assists (526), most recently passing Jim Paxson (515, 1975-79). He also ranks sixth in career 3-pointers (226).

Crutcher, a 6-foot-1 senior guard from Ridgeway High School in Memphis, said he doesn’t pay much attention to the record book and only sees it or hears about it when others bring it up.

“It’s an honor to be talked about in those categories,” he said, “especially with all the great players who came to Dayton.”

No one knows the history of those players better in the current program than coach Anthony Grant, who has seen his first recruit turn into one of the most important players in school history.

“I think he’ll be considered hopefully one of the best players to ever come through Dayton,” Grant said. “I’m certainly proud of the way he’s represented our university, this community. I think he’s done it in a first-class manner. I think he’s put his heart and soul into helping this team become the best version of itself.”

There are still big moments ahead for Crutcher. Dayton (9-4, 5-3) starts the back half of the Atlantic 10 Conference schedule when it plays Rhode Island (9-8, 6-4) at 4 p.m. Saturday at UD Arena. It’s one of four remaining home games for the Flyers, though they could reschedule a postponed game against George Washington.

“We’ve got a lot of basketball left to play,” Grant said. “Our best basketball is still in front of us from my view. Hopefully, we’ll continue to get better. But certainly (Crutcher’s) legacy goes down with the best to put that uniform.”

Crutcher has made the most of his senior year in that he rarely leaves the court. He ranks second in the country in minutes per game (39.0). He’s just behind the record set by Paxson (39.3) in 1975-76.

The numbers don’t tell the whole story of Crutcher. He has earned the “Clutcher” nickname with numerous key plays and impressive stretches throughout his career.

Last season at Massachusetts, Crutcher scored 11 points in under two minutes in the second half in a 71-63 victory. He sent a game to overtime against Kansas in the championship game of the Maui Invitational as a junior with a last-second 3-pointer. He had the go-ahead layup against Colorado in the final seconds in overtime last season, and that would have been the winning basket if Colorado hadn’t won the game on a last-second 3-pointer seconds later.

Earlier this season, Crutcher scored seven of his 26 points in the final 90 seconds to help lead the Flyers to a 74-65 victory against George Mason.

“He’s been poised,” center Jordy Tshimanga said. “Part of it comes from how he grew up. Great parents. That plays a role. He’s just been a comfortable guy with confidence. He believes in himself, and we believe in him as well. That definitely helps.”

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