Dayton Flyers: Johnson’s 3-point shooting an early highlight

Redshirt junior forward plays for the first time in 51 weeks

Chase Johnson attempted 40 shots in his first three seasons of college basketball. None of them were 3-pointers.

That’s why it was a surprise when Johnson shot a 3-pointer on the first possession of the 2020-21 season for the Dayton Flyers on Tuesday and made it. Three possessions later, he did it again, playing a big role in UD’s 21-7 run to start the game against Eastern Illinois. By the time he made his third 3-pointer, in the second half, his outside shooting touch wasn’t a surprise.

Johnson made 3 of 3 3-pointers and 5 of 6 shots from the field in Dayton’s 66-63 victory at UD Arena.

“Chase is super versatile,” Dayton guard Ibi Watson said. “We love his ability to stretch the floor.”

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This was Johnson’s first game in 51 weeks. He played six minutes in Dayton’s victory against Saint Mary’s in Phoenix and then medically withdrew from the university in January. He announced last summer would return to the program. He’s a redshirt junior who has appeared in 14 games in his career: six in two seasons with the Florida Gators and eight last year.

Johnson added seven rebounds and four assists in 31 minutes. Prior to this game, he had not played more than 16 minutes in a college game.

“There were a lot of things that Chase did really well,” Dayton coach Anthony Grant said. “He played with poise. He played with great confidence. It was great to see the shots go down. I thought he did a good job banging and battling.”

Pregame scene: All of Dayton’s players wore Black Lives Matter T-shirts as they warmed up Tuesday and kept them on through the national anthem.

Explore» MORE ON GAME: Flyers grateful to play after long wait

Uniform addition: The Flyers wore patches on their uniforms that read, “United As One.” The campaign was started by NCAA athletes in the spring as a way for them to show support for each other during the pandemic. Many teams around college basketball are wearing the patches.

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Symbolic gesture: Grant coached with a towel over his shoulder to honor John Thompson, the late Georgetown coach who coached with a trademark white towel over his shoulder.

Grant said he didn’t know Thompson but knew his son John Thompson III from having coached with him at the 2008 FIBA Americas U18 Championship in Argentina and wanted to pay tribute.

Credit: David Jablonski

Credit: David Jablonski

Historical moment: One of the three officials Tuesday was Amy Bonner, who became the first woman to officiate a game involving an Atlantic 10 Conference team. Bonner has a long career in the WNBA, G-League and in NCAA women’s basketball and has officiated men’s games in the Big 12.

“Amy is a skilled official,” A-10 Commissioner Bernadette V. McGlade said in a statement. “I have encouraged Bryan Kersey, our men’s basketball assignor, to invite strong women officials on to our roster, as space becomes available. Thus it’s great to have Amy working in the A-10 setting a great example for other women — officiating basketball is officiating basketball regardless of gender!”

Looking ahead: Dayton plays Southern Methodist at 2 p.m. Saturday at UD Arena. The game will be televised on Spectrum News 1 and ESPN+.

SMU (2-0) opened the season with blowout victories among teams ranked in the bottom 50 of the Ken Pomeroy ratings, beating Sam Houston State 97-67 and Texas A&M Corpus Christi 91-54.

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