Obi Toppin posed for a photo with a 17-month-old boy on hand for his first Dayton Flyers game on Sunday at Hagan Arena. The star of the nation’s 20th-ranked team goes out of his way to interact with fans, and his personality may help him as much as his dunking talents with NBA scouts.
» PHOTOS: Flyers vs. Hawks
In fact, Boston Celtics beat writer Steve Bulpett, a UD grad who works for the Boston Herald, said he planned to send the photo of Toppin and the boy to a NBA scout to illustrate his off-the-court charm.
Toppin had a few big moments in Dayton’s 80-67 victory against Saint Joseph’s. His reverse dunk with 1:45 to play after a spin move along the baseline put the exclamation point on Dayton’s first victory at Hagan in 20 years.
However, one of the stories of the game was how Dayton responded when Toppin went to the bench with four fouls with 14:40 to go. The Flyers led 46-43 at that point. Six minutes later, they led 59-49. Toppin didn’t return to the game until the 3:12 mark.
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“You never want to see that situation where Obi picked up his fourth foul, especially as early as he did,” Dayton coach Anthony Grant said, “but I thought we got great play and leadership out of Trey (Landers) and Ryan (Mikesell), out of several different guys. Ibi (Watson) came in and gave us a great boost. I thought Jalen (Crutcher) did a great job of understanding how to take advantage of the situations that were out there, and I thought we got a great effort defensively all the way around.”
Hot hand: Landers made a career-high four 3-pointers on eight attempts. He tied Mikesell for the team lead with 18 points. Landers is shooting 37.9 percent (11 of 29) from 3-point range a season after he shot 20 percent (9 of 45).
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“I missed a couple, and I’m like, ‘I’m OK,’” Landers said. “They baited me to shoot it, so I’m going to keep shooting. I’m a basketball player at the end of the day. People like to say, ‘He’s not a good shooter.’ It’s not that I’m not a good shooter. I just play to my strengths.”
Key contribution: Watson scored 13 of his 15 points in a four-minute span in the second half. He helped keep Dayton in front during a stretch in which the Hawks had their offense rolling by scoring inside and out. He made two 3-pointers and made 5 of 5 free throws.
Opposing viewpoint: This was Dayton’s first game against new Saint Joseph’s coach Billy Lange, whose team has lost 10 of its last 11 games. The Hawks are 3-11.
“What makes Dayton a Final Four-caliber team,” Lange said, “is their commitment to Dayton basketball is outstanding and you get them on the court and they have a lot of weapons.”
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