Jordan Davis enjoyed his second season opener with the Dayton Flyers.
One year after coming off the bench to score two points in 14 minutes against Ball State in his college debut, Davis scored 16 points on 4-of-8 shooting, making 2 of 2 3-pointers and 6 of 8 free throws in a 78-70 victory against North Florida on Wednesday at UD Arena.
“I felt more comfortable,” Davis said. “There was less drama than last year.”
Dayton didn’t need a last-second shot from Josh Cunningham, who saved the Flyers against Ball State in 2017, in this opener. It built a double-digit lead that never dipped lower than the final margin in the last 16 minutes. The Flyers won without Cunningham, who missed the game after injuring his hand Tuesday in practice.
“Our thing is next man up,” Davis said.
Dayton had the lead for almost 32 minutes in the game. After falling behind 18-13 at the 12:46 mark in the first half, a basket by Trey Landers and three free throws by Dwayne Cohill tied the game.
Dayton trailed once more, 21-18 after a 3-pointer by North Florida’s Noah Horchler at the 9:26 mark, but went on an 8-0 run with two layups and two dunks in a two-minute span.
“I think we played well,” Davis said. “On the defensive end, we played well there. That was our main focus. That was good to see. We wanted to defend the 3, and our pick-and-roll coverage was big. If we did those two things, we knew we would be fine.”
Streak alive: Dayton has won the season opener 13 years in a row. It last lost its first game 73-66 to Eastern Kentucky in 2004 at UD Arena.
Crowd size: After topping 13,000 fans the last two years in the opener, Dayton drew a crowd of 12,522. It was the smallest crowd for a season opener since 2013 (12,145 against IPFW).
Rotation update: Dayton played seven players. Jhery Matos was the first sub, replacing Ryan Mikesell at the 15:30 mark. Dwayne Cohill entered the game for Davis at the 12:11 mark.
Freshman Frankie Policelli was the only scholarship player to not see action. Coach Anthony Grant said it was a coach’s decision to not play Policelli.
Around the A-10: Twelve of the 14 teams in the Atlantic 10 Conference played on the first two days of the college basketball season. Seven won games, including preseason favorite Saint Louis, which beat Southeast Missouri 75-65.
Two A-10 teams suffered tough losses in the opener. George Washington blew a 22-0 lead and lost 74-77 at home to Stony Brook on Tuesday. George Mason lost 72-71 at home to Penn.
Davidson’s Kellan Grady, one of the top contenders for A-10 Player of the Year, led all A-10 players with 24 points in the opener. Davidson beat Cleveland State 83-63.