Dayton’s Jalen Crutcher, center, gets back on defense after making a 3-pointer against Davidson with 56 seconds to play on Tuesday, Jan. 23, 2018, at UD Arena. David Jablonski/Staff

Crutcher steps into spotlight with clutch shot for Dayton

Flyers beat Davidson thanks in part to 3-pointer in final minute by freshman

The last three games in the series have featured 3-point daggers. The seniors, Gibbs and Smith, had their moments last season. The freshman Crutcher stepped into the spotlight in the latest matchup, hitting a go-ahead 3-pointer with 56 seconds remaining to carry Dayton to a 65-64 victory at UD Arena.

Crutcher didn’t bounce down the court after his shot flexing his muscles or jumping up and down. He didn’t even crack a smile. That’s his style.

“I wanted to show emotion, but I know the game wasn’t over,” Crutcher said. “I wanted to stay locked in.”

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Crutcher scored 12 points on 4-of-10 shooting. He added six assists and, most importantly, no turnovers. He has averaged 11.8 points in eight Atlantic 10 games, ranking third on the team, after averaging 5.3 points in 12 non-conference games.

Dayton (10-10, 4-4) blew a 58-50 lead in the final five minutes and trailed second-place Davidson (10-8, 5-2) 61-60 entering the final minute. Davidson star Peyton Aldridge gave the Wildcats the lead with 1:27 to play with a jump shot.

Dayton wanted to get the ball to Josh Cunningham on the play, but Crutcher was wide open after a pass from Jordan Davis.

“I’m very confident in my shooting,” Crutcher said. “I just took the shot and made it.”

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Crutcher made 2 of 7 3-pointers. In the last four games, he has made 14 of 28.

“Jalen is one of those players,” Dayton coach Anthony Grant said. “Just watching him in high school, he wants to take those shots. He’s a very confident kid in terms of his belief in his ability to make shots at crucial times. I think we had a play on where we felt like we could get Josh a look inside, and we had (Jordan Davis) in the corner. The ball got swung to him, and there was maybe two seconds on the shot clock. Great extra pass. He was open. He got a great look at it. We’re thankful it went in.”

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