“I was feeling it a little bit,” Davis said. “Coach (Anthony) Grant kept telling me to be patient with the offense. It was going to come to me. Since he played here, he knows more than I do. I was just patient and let the game come to me. It feels good to win the opener. We’ve got a lot of things to work on, but a win is a win.”
Second-half highlights: Dayton vs. Ball State
Opening run: The Flyers began the game with a 14-0 run in the first six minutes. Ball State missed its first 11 field goals, including its first five 3-pointers.
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Take away those attempts, and the Cardinals shot 55.4 percent (31 of 56) from the field in the last 34 minutes and 40.9 percent (9 of 22) from 3-point range.
Grant liked Dayton’s defensive effort in the first six minutes.
“We played hard,” he said. “We had a lot of breakdowns defensively. We weren’t necessarily guarding the way we talk about guarding, but guys made the extra effort and came up with some big defensive plays on blocked shots where we had breakdowns defensively.”
Person's shot: Dayton's defense let it down on Ball State's possession before Cunningham's winning shot. Ball State's Tayler Persons dribbled past Xeyrius Williams at the free-throw line and scored on a wide-open layup with 3 seconds left, giving Ball State a 77-76 lead.
Davis and Cunningham failed to provide help on the shot. Neither moved from their spots on each side of the basket.
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Persons scored 13 points on 6-of-13 shooting and added eight assists. He scored eight points in the final three minutes.
“He was able to impose his will on the game at the end of the game, which is a credit to the caliber of player he is,” Grant said.
PRESS CONFERENCE: Dayton's Anthony Grant after beating Ball State
Crosby's performance: In his first game as Dayton's starting point guard after two seasons playing behind Scoochie Smith, junior John Crosby delivered. He scored 13 points on 4-of-6 shooting and made 5 of 6 free throws. He had six rebounds, four assists and two turnovers in 28 minutes.
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Grant praised Crosby for the job he did guarding Persons for most of the game and for running the offense and making big shots. Crosby scored six points in a two-minute span starting at the 5:15 mark in the second half as Dayton extended its lead to 71-64 with 3:44 to play.
“It’s a game John will grow and learn from,” Grant said. “It will hopefully give him more confidence as he progresses with his understanding of what he needs to do to run our team.”
Ball State reaction: Cardinals coach James Whitford's program fell to 1-6 all time against the Flyers, though this was only the third matchup since 1958.
WINNING DEBUT: Grant cherishes first victory
"What I would say is this: It's the first game of the year, and we could have played better than that," Whitford told The Star Press. "Almost every coach will say that after the first game. But I was proud of our competitiveness. I thought we really stuck together in hostile environment. You could see our guys pulling each other back into the moment and making sure we didn't get frustrated."
Dayton vs. Hofstra in Charleston Classic, 7:30 p.m., ESPNU, FM 95.7, AM 1290