There was never a question of whether the Dayton Flyers would beat Fordham on Saturday at UD Arena. They had a 99 percent chance of winning the game, according to KenPom.com, and had won 15 straight in the series. The only question was, “By how much would they win?”
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The final margin, 70-56, was smaller than anticipated, but No. 7 Dayton (20-2, 9-0) coasted to its 11th straight victory, reaching the halfway point of the Atlantic 10 Conference schedule with a perfect league record.
"It feels good," Dayton guard Rodney Chatman said. "We worked hard this offseason. We stayed the course, stayed disciplined, listened to coach (Anthony) Grant. We knew we had a chance before the season started and really last season, but we're just putting it into action and we've got things rolling."
Asked last week if he ever thought Dayton would be 19-2, guard Jalen Crutcher said, "Yes." Asked about the 20-2 record, Chatman paused before answering the same and then said, "We've got to stay humble. The season's not over. A lot of games left. A long season."
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This team matched the last Dayton team to start 20-2, the 2008-09 Flyers, by winning its 20th game on Feb. 1. The 11-game winning streak is the longest since the 2007-08 season when Dayton won 13 straight games from Nov. 21 through Jan. 12.
This was far from one of Dayton's most impressive performances. It shot 45.1 percent from the field, its third lowest percentage of the season, and let Fordham make 10 of 23 3-pointers (43.5 percent), its second best performance of the season. Still, Dayton led by double digits for the last 30 minutes.
Trey Landers and Obi Toppin each scored 18. Chatman had 10. Ibi Watson scored eight. Jordy Tshimanga scored six.
Dayton led by as many as 22 points in the second half. Fordham (7-14, 1-8) made 9 of 14 3-pointers (64.3 percent) in the second half after making 1 of 9 in the first half to keep the score respectable.
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"We're glad to open up February with a win," Grant said. "I thought our guys did a good job on the offensive end tonight. The ball movement, I thought, was exceptional on a night when we didn't particularly shoot the ball great. Just the way the ball moved and our guys' willingness to share, we did a really good job there. When you look at the stat sheet and see 21 assists on 23 made baskets, that's outstanding."
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Dayton guard Jhery Matos played 15 minutes and scored four points. It was the most action he's seen in A-10 play. He entered the game midway through the first half, while Dwayne Cohill, usually one of the first players off the bench, did not see any time until the final minutes of the game.
Asked if there was any reason Cohill didn't play earlier, Grant said, "Nothing other than I can only put five guys on the court at the time. The guys who were out there did a good job. It was good to see Jhery take advantage of the minutes he got tonight."
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