The offseason concerns about how the Dayton Flyers would find playing time for so many players on such a deep roster have long since faded. With Moulaye Sissoko redshirting and Chase Johnson withdrawing from the University of Dayton for medical reasons, the team has nine scholarship players available.
Each of those nine played between seven and 34 minutes on Saturday in an 87-79 victory over Richmond at the Robins Center. The No. 7 Flyers have obvious stars — Obi Toppin and Jalen Crutcher each scored 24 — but also depend on three role players — Jordy Tshimanga, Dwayne Cohill and Jhery Matos — and coach Anthony Grant was happy with each of their performances in the 20th game of the season.
“I thought those guys came in and did a great job today,” Grant said. “A lot of people look at the stat sheet. For us as coaches, we’re not really engaged in that as much. The things that those guys did in terms of scouting report, in terms of being able to execute offensively, the effort and energy they gave, I thought all three of those guys were really huge.”
Cohill scored both his points at the free throw line in nine minutes of action. Matos had an assist and a blocked shot in eight minutes. Tshimanga had five points in 10 minutes. He made three straight free throws after throwing up an airball on his first attempt.
“That first one, honestly, it just slipped off my pinkie finger,” Tshimanga said, “but I laughed it off and just kept the same routine.”
League update: Through seven of 18 Atlantic 10 Conference games, first-place Dayton (18-2, 7-0) owns a one-game lead over Rhode Island and a two-game lead over Richmond, Duquesne and Virginia Commonwealth.
• Duquesne (15-4, 5-2) fell into a tie for third place with a 73-64 loss at Massachusetts on Saturday. The Minutemen (8-12, 2-5) ended a four-game losing streak and won, in part, by outscoring the Dukes 27-13 at the free-throw line.
• Rhode Island (14-5, 6-1) won its sixth straight game since a 69-61 loss at home to Richmond in its A-10 opener. The Rams beat St. Bonaventure 81-75 in Olean, N.Y. Fatts Russell scored 29 points for Rhode Island.
After a 4-0 start in league play, the Bonnies (12-8, 4-3) have lost three straight games to three of the top teams in the conference: Virginia Commonwealth, Dayton and Rhode Island.
• VCU (15-5, 5-2) won its third straight game since a 79-65 loss at Dayton. It beat La Salle 76-65 in Philadelphia.
• Davidson (10-9, 4-3) won its third straight game, 68-53 at home against George Mason (13-7, 2-5).
Looking ahead: Dayton plays Duquesne at 7 p.m. Wednesday at PPG Paints Arena in Pittsburgh. The Dukes are playing home games at different venues this season because their normal home court, the Palumbo Center, is undergoing renovations.
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Duquesne played four non-conference games at La Roche University and is alternating between PPG Paints Arena, where the Pittsburgh Penguins play, and the UPMC Events Center, which is the home of Robert Morris University basketball, during A-10 play.
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