Dayton improved to 3-1 with one non-conference game remaining Dec. 19 against Mississippi, though it could choose to add a game or games between then and the start of Atlantic 10 Conference play. Mississippi State fell to 3-3 with its first loss to Dayton in four games. Three of those games have taken place in the last four seasons.
“It felt really good,” Crutcher said. “Beating an SEC school is really big for our conference and our team. Since my freshman year, we’ve played Mississippi State every year except last year, and we never did get a win. I was really trying to get this win today.”
“It was a tough game,” Watson said. “Mississippi State is a super tough team. Very physical. We had to fight.”
A game that featured 19 lead changes and 11 ties saw Dayton take a 62-57 lead into the final two minutes of the second half only to give up a 5-0 run.
After two tie-breaking free throws by Watson with 5 seconds left in the second half, Molinar dribbled the length of the court, cut between Crutcher and Jordy Tshimanga at the basket and got a layup to fall at the buzzer.
The game went to overtime, where Dayton suffered its only two losses last season. Dayton trailed throughout the overtime period but tied the game on freshman R.J. Blakney’s first career 3-pointer, off an assist by Watson, and his first basket of the game with 15 seconds left. Molinar missed a jump shot at the buzzer.
“We were in a situation where we were going for the best shot available,” Grant said. “We needed a 2 or a 3. (Watson) drove it and saw the help coming off and trusted his teammates. For R.J., as a freshman, to step up in that situation and make that shot, that was huge.”
This was Dayton’s first double-overtime game since it beat St. Bonaventure 89-86 on Jan. 19, 2019.
Early in the game, it didn’t appear as if the Flyers would get that far. They trailed 33-25 at halftime. That was the largest deficit either team faced in the game.
Quinten Post, a 7-foot center who had made two 3-pointers in his career entering the game, made two in the final two minutes of the half.
Crutcher kept Dayton in the game with 12 points on 5-of-8 shooting. Watson missed his first four field goals and finished the half with three points on 1-of-5 shooting.
Dayton committed eight turnovers in the half and gave up 10 offensive rebounds.
With the game tied at 16-16, Dayton gave up a 9-2 run and trailed for the last 10 minutes of the half.
Dayton then opened the second half with a 9-0 run, taking the lead on a steal and fast-break layup by Rodney Chatman.
NOTES: Freshman guard Luke Frazier did not travel to Atlanta with the team. He had his appendix removed Thursday. Trainer Mike Mulcahey said, “He is in the recovery process and looks forward to returning to the court when he is ready.” ... Grant was presented with the Naismith Coach of the Year trophy by the Atlanta Tipoff Club on Friday. Grant won the award in April, but the club wanted to give him the trophy in person.