The Dayton Flyers had an 80.6 percent chance of beating George Washington at the tipoff Wednesday night. That number plummeted to 19.5 percent when the Colonials took a 33-11 lead and fell even further to 17.1 percent early in the second half as they stretched a 10-point halftime lead to 47-30.
All those percentages, which can be found at KenPom.com, didn’t account for the fact that the Flyers have battled back — or most of the way back — from early deficits several times this season. It trailed Oklahoma by 14, Auburn by 19 and Tulsa by 14. It made those games competitive but lost each one.
George Washington (5-10) has almost as many losses as those three teams combined, so that’s probably the biggest reason Dayton (10-5, 2-0) completed this comeback, winning 72-66 at the Charles E. Smith Center in Washington, D.C. Still, considering the circumstances — the Flyers hadn’t won in the building since 2009 and the program had won one of its last 10 road games in the conference — it was an impressive win. It’s Dayton’s largest comeback victory since at least the 2005-06 season.
“It was really hard,” guard Jordan Davis said, ” but we just kept playing and stayed together. It started on the defensive end. We just kept going from there.”
“We just kept chipping away,” guard Trey Landers said.
After reviewing the game film on ESPN+, here’s a more detailed look on how Dayton did it. This is a recap of the 32-11 second-half run that turned a 47-30 deficit into a 62-58 lead.
18:14: Davis makes the first of six second-half 3-pointers. He took the shot two steps behind the line but didn’t have a defender near him. Deficit: 47-33.
17:41: Seconds after the announcer says, “This is a critical stretch for the Flyers to get back into this one,” Davis makes another 3-pointer. He didn’t hesitate after catching a short pass from Ryan Mikesell before shooting. Again, he was a step or two behind the line. Two defenders in George Washington’s zone defense were two steps away when he rose to shoot. Deficit: 47-36.
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16:29: After a basket by GW and then a missed 3 by Mikesell, Davis anticipates a pass and steals it near the GW 3-point line, taking it all the way for a fast-break layup. Deficit: 49-38.
15:55: Davis misses a 3-pointer, but Josh Cunningham gets the offensive rebound and is fouled as he attempts a shot. He makes both free throws. He makes 6 of 12 free throws. Deficit: 49-40.
15:11: Another steal by Davis, who had three in the game, leads to a fast-break layup by Landers. Deficit: 49-42.
13:47: Landers, who scored 12 points on 5-of-11 shooting, attacks the zone and hits a short floater in the paint. Deficit: 51-44.
12:35: After five points in 20 seconds by GW’s DJ Williams, the Flyers start a 13-0 run with a 3-pointer by Davis. Deficit: 56-47.
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11:31: The offense continues to attempt go inside throughout this run — several lobs to Obi Toppin fail to produce points — with little to show for it except for free throws by Cunningham. He makes two more. Deficit: 56-49.
10:25: After Justin Mazzulla throws up an airball on a 3-point attempt, Mikesell catches a pass in stride and hits a quick 3-pointer. It’s a rare shot attempt early in the shot clock by the Flyers. GW makes 2 of 11 3-pointers in the second half after making 8 of 16 in the first. Dayton goes the other way, making 7 of 12 after making 3 of 11. Deficit: 56-52.
9:59: After a defensive rebound by Toppin, Crutcher makes a quick pass ahead to Landers, who beats the GW defense for a layup. GW coach Maurice Joseph calls a time-out. Deficit: 56-54.
9:50: Both teams get an extended break because the lead official Wally Rutecki suffers a leg injury and leaves the game. The delay does not affect Dayton. Crutcher throws an in-bounds pass to Davis in the corner, and he makes the go-ahead 3-pointer. Lead: 57-56.
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8:53: The Colonials end an 0-for-7 shooting stretch with a layup by Williams. Then Crutcher penetrates the defense and passes to Toppin on the baseline for a dunk. Dayton doesn’t trail again. Lead: 59-58.
7:16: Davis makes his longest 3-pointer of the night from about three steps behind the line. Lead: 62-58.
In the final minutes, Dayton stretches the lead to as many as seven points before George Washington makes it interesting. It gets as close as two points. Crutcher and Landers seal the victory with four free throws in the final 25 seconds.
Davis finishes with a career-high 25 points on 7-of-11 shooting from behind the arc.
“Anybody’s capable of getting hot on any night,” Landers said. “Tonight was JD’s night. We were fortunate. Big ups to JD for that.”