The Dayton Flyers may look back on Jan. 3 as a turning point, the moment they righted a topsy-turvy season and realized their potential, or they might continue the trend that has seen them alternate wins and losses, with one exception, all season.
This is college basketball. Anything can happen and often does.
Dayton’s 82-72 victory against St. Bonaventureon Wednesday at UD Arena proved that once again. The Bonnies were picked to finish second in the Atlantic 10 Conference behind Rhode Island. They had won eight games in a row. They beat Syracuse on the road. They routed Massachusetts 98-78 Saturday in their A-10 opener.
The Flyers (7-7, 1-1) seemed to be headed in the opposite direction after losing 70-62 Saturday at Duquesne, but they never trailed against the Bonnies (11-3, 1-1).
“Great, great win for our team today,” Dayton coach Anthony Grant said. “I’m really proud of the effort our guys gave. I thought the first half, from a defensive standpoint, may have been the best half we’ve played this season. I thought our guys were really locked into the scouting report and were really locked into the energy and effort level we needed to play with. We were able to build a lead.”
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Dayton seized control with a 10-0 run starting with a 3-pointer by Jalen Crutcher at the 16:31 mark of the first half. That broke a 4-4 tie. The Flyers led by as many as 18 points in the first half and were up 39-25 at halftime.
The Bonnies never got closer than seven points in the second half. Dayton clinched the game at the free-throw line. Darrell Davis, who led the Flyers with 28 points, made 10 of 10 free throws in the final four minutes.
“St. Bonaventure’s a really good team,” Grant said. “They’re really well coached and talented. They were going to make a run, and we knew that. But our guys were able to sustain it. We made runs of our own.”
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