Cunningham one of most efficient scorers in Dayton history

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Josh Cunningham on Senior Night at UD Arena: 'Just want to win the game'

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

Forward from Chicago will be honored Wednesday on Senior Night

Josh Cunningham doesn’t give much away on the court when it comes to his feelings. Every once in a while, he shows excitement after a basket. More often than not, he has a poker face. In that regard, he’s nothing like the two fellow Chicagoans he played with two seasons ago: Kendall Pollard and Kyle Davis, both of whom let everyone know how they were feeling all the time on the court.

When Cunningham hit the go-ahead free throw in the final seconds of a 74-73 victory at Davidson on Feb. 19, he got back on defense without a smile and left the court with the same look, saying later, "It was nothing big."

How will Cunningham react Wednesday before a game against La Salle when he takes the court on Senior Night with his mom, god-mother and little sister?

“It’s my last game, but the emotions are still the same,” Cunningham said. “I just want to win the game and continue to win this season and make a trip to the tournament.”

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Don’t expect tears from Cunningham before his last regular-season game at UD Arena.

“I don’t think so,” Cunningham said, “but only time will tell.”

Although Cunningham’s numbers have declined from his redshirt junior to redshirt senior season — in part because of the rise of forward Obi Toppin, who has shared the load with Cunningham in the post and recently passed him in scoring — he’ll go down as one of the most productive and efficient scorers in Dayton history.

Entering the final week of the regular season, Cunningham has scored 1,188 points in his career and 928 in three seasons at Dayton. He played his freshman season at Bradley and left when the program fired coach Geno Ford.

Cunningham ranks 56th in UD history in scoring and second in career field-goal percentage (64.0), trailing only Sean Finn (64.7). He shot 64.6 percent from the field last season, which ranks fifth in school history and is shooting 64.1 percent this season. He will soon rank sixth and seventh with those numbers because Toppin is on track to post the second-best percentage in school history (67.6).

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Of the 354 shots Cunningham has made in his career, three stand out.

There was the dunk in the final seconds against Alabama in the second game of the 2016-17 season. After sitting out the previous season as a transfer and undergoing knee and shoulder surgeries during his redshirt season, Cunningham suffered more bad luck as he landed after the dunk. He tore a ligament in his ankle, underwent surgery and did not play again until Feb. 10.

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

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Dayton Flyers highlights: Cunningham's 21-point game vs. Davidson

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Cunningham was not the same player later that season when he returned but made an important shot on Senior Night against Virginia Commonwealth to help Dayton clinch the Atlantic 10 Conference championship. With the Flyers mired in a three-minute scoreless stretch and VCU trimming a 14-point Dayton lead to 71-68 with under four minutes to play, Cunningham hit a jump shot to give the Flyers a five-point lead. He scored 10 points on 4-of-5 shooting in the game.

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“I just remember the time was winding down,” Cunningham said. “I forget who was the play was for, but the ball ended up coming to me. I remember here’s a shot I’m used to taking, and I’ve got to make it I was able to make it to help the team win.”

The third shot goes down as Cunningham’s most famous. He caught a lob pass from Xeyrius Williams to score at the buzzer in the 2017-18 season opener as the Flyers beat Ball State 78-77.

With the final chapter of Cunningham’s story at Dayton yet to be written, he hopes he gets more chances to add to his list of memorable moments. Dayton wants to secure a top-four seed in the A-10 tournament this week and then make a run in Brooklyn, N.Y., next week.

“I think if we come and play the way we’ve been playing, we can make things happen,” Cunningham said.


SATURDAY’S GAME

Dayton at Duquesne, ESPN+, AM 1290 and News 95.7 WHIO

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WATCH: Dayton beats Ball State on buzzer-beater by Josh Cunningham

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