Dayton Flyers survive late Eastern Illinois rally to win opener

The Dayton Flyers escaped with a 66-63 victory against Eastern Illinois to win their 2020-21 season opener Tuesday at UD Arena.

» PHOTOS: Dayton vs. EIU

Eastern Illinois trailed 64-52 with 3:39 to play and then scored 11 straight points. Dayton’s Jalen Crutcher ended the run with two free throws with 12 seconds to play. Eastern Illinois then missed a game-tying 3-pointer at the buzzer.

Dayton remained unbeaten in 2020. It won its last 20 games of the 2019-20 season. It has now won 21 games in a row.

Ibi Watson led the Flyers with 16 points. Chase Johnson scored 14. Crutcher scored 13. Jordy Tshimanga had 10. Rodney Chatman scored nine.

» RELATED: Arena experience will be different for fans

Moulaye Sissoko and R.J. Blakney each had two points off the bench.

The game was played with fewer than 300 fans in the stands because of Ohio Department of Health restrictions during the coronavirus pandemic. Coaches wore masks on the bench. Players were socially distanced on the bench. There were no photographers or ballboys on the baseline under the baskets. All the fans sat on the east side of the arena in small groups.


The Flyers made their first eight shots from the field and built a 21-7 lead before seeing Eastern Illinois cut the lead to 38-33 at halftime.

Dayton opened its first game of the 2020-21 season with an 8-0 run. Johnson made the first basket of the season: a 3-pointer.

Johnson scored eight points in the half. Watson led the Flyers with 11.

Johnson, Watson, Crutcher, Chatman and Tshimanga — the five returning players — started for Dayton.

Blakney was the first person off the bench, and he was followed by Sissoko, who made his UD debut, and walk-on Christian Wilson. Zimi Nwokeji also saw his first college action in the first half.

Blakney was the only newcomer to score for Dayton in the first half, following up a miss by Crutcher.

Freshman Lukas Frazier was the only player in uniform not to play in the first half. Freshman Koby Brea did not warm up before the game and was not in uniform.

About the Author