Jalen Crutcher saw Ryan Mikesell point one finger up in the air as he sprinted down the court. It was the universal sign for an alley-oop pass, something Crutcher sees all the time from Obi Toppin but not something he had ever seen from Mikesell.
The nation’s second-most efficient offense dunks often. Toppin, who has a nation-leading 63 dunks, dominates that stat. Mikesell has had his fair share this season — but nothing like the one in the first half Wednesday.
“It had to be the perfect pass,” Crutcher said with a laugh. “With Obi, I can just throw it anywhere.”
Crutcher did throw the perfect pass. Mikesell delivered the perfect finish. The No. 7 Dayton Flyers may not have played the perfect game but still managed to rout St. Bonaventure 86-60 at UD Arena, extending their winning streak to eight games and moving into first place by themselves in the Atlantic 10 Conference with the league's last perfect record.
Dayton (17-2, 6-0) leads a trio of second-place teams — Duquesne, Richmond and Rhode Island (all 5-1) — by a game one third of the way through the A-10 schedule. It still has to play Duquesne and Rhode Island twice and travels to Richmond on Saturday for its next game. In short, no one will clinch the A-10 championship anytime soon even if Dayton continues to look like the best team.
The Flyers shot a season-best 64.8 percent from the field. It was the third time they topped 60 percent. They made 10 of 25 3-pointers (40 percent), their best performance outside the arc since Dec. 23.
Dayton never trailed and broke the game open with a 22-5 run to end the first half. It extended the lead to as many as 27 points in the second half. The Bonnies (12-7, 4-2) suffered their second-worst loss of the season four days after their worst loss: 91-63 at Virginia Commonwealth.
“Being able to get out in transition as much as we did allowed us to hit some spurts they weren’t able to overcome,” Dayton coach Anthony Grant said. “I thought our guys did a really good job of sharing the ball tonight. When you see 25 assists, that’s a great number.”
The player of the game for the second straight game was Crutcher, who didn’t need a last-second shot this time. Five days after his game-winning 3-pointer in overtime against Saint Louis, Crutcher scored 23 points on 9-of-13 shooting. He added seven assists and committed only one turnover.
With his third straight 20-point game, Crutcher continued a rapid ascent up the Dayton career scoring list. He passed Jim Paxson Sr., Charles Cooke and Josh Cunningham on Wednesday to move into 51st place in school history with 973 points.
Crutcher averaged 12.9 points in 13 non-conference games. He has averaged 16.8 points in six conference games.
“He’s a really good player,” Grant said. “I think he’s been proving that since he stepped on campus for what we asked him to do as a freshman and what he grew into as a sophomore and his progression. He’s really good not only scoring but facilitating and making plays for his teammates.”
Several of Clutcher’s baskets will go on his season highlight reel. He threw up one shot almost blind and got it to fall as he fell to the ground thanks to some strong spin, drawing a foul in the process.
“I just tried to get it up on the rim,” Crutcher said.