Obi Toppin had his moments, but Jalen Crutcher stole the show.
Dayton’s junior point guard scored 21 points, grabbed six rebounds and handed out three assists as the Flyers topped Rhode Island 81-65 in front of 13,407 on Tuesday night.
The win kept the sixth-ranked Flyers (22-2, 11-0) alone in first place in the Atlantic 10 and dropped the second-place Rams (18-6, 10-2) two games back in the standings.
"Thought Jalen had a really good game,” Dayton coach Anthony Grant said. “He’s a really good player — if you haven't heard me say that before. Hopefully you guys start to believe me."
Crutcher overshadowed Rhode Island guard Fatts Russell, who entered the game leading the Atlantic 10 in scoring but struggled to get much going until some in the sellout crowd had started heading for the exits.
» READ MORE: Game recap
“We knew coming in the game he averaged 20 points in the league, so we knew that we had to stop him,” Crutcher said. “If we stopped him then it’s basically like game over.”
Crutcher hit a pair of 3-pointers and had an assist in Dayton’s game-opening 17-0 blitz that gave the Flyers control they never relinquished.
UD led by as many as 19 and never less than nine after the opening minutes.
Crutcher had 15 of his points in the first half when he was 4 for 5 from the floor and made all five of his free-throw attempts.
"Jalen's never lacked confidence,” Grant said. “Jalen walked in here as a 17-, 18-year-old freshman and got a starting position that he earned. He went through the league and held his own against some really, really talented guys so you know this is not something that to me is an epiphany or new. He's matured, he's older, but he's been a really good player for a really long time guys."
Russell had two points on 1-for-6 shooting in the first half. He scored 13 points in the last eight minutes to finish with 19, one below his league-leading average of 20.3 per game.
For the game, Crutcher was 5 of 7 from the floor and 9 for 9 from the charity stripe but said he wasn’t worried about how his number matched up against Russell’s.
"No, I just let the people outside talk,” he said. "I just try to play for my team. I just care about the win more than just individual."
Russell missed 11 of his 18 shots and had four assists.
Meanwhile Toppin notched his seventh double-double with 22 points and 10 rebounds.
He also had a highlight-reel dunk at the expense of his brother, Jacob, who raced in too late to stop a breakaway jam by the Flyers star.
» ARCHDEACON: More on Toppin vs. Toppin
Obi finished a windmill dunk and drew a foul on his brother, a freshman for the Rams, early in the play.
Jacob finished with four points in 15 minutes.
Thank you for reading the Dayton Daily News and for supporting local journalism. Subscribers: log in for access to your daily ePaper and premium newsletters.
Thank you for supporting in-depth local journalism with your subscription to the Dayton Daily News. Get more news when you want it with email newsletters just for subscribers. Sign up here.