In a four-day span, the Dayton Flyers experienced the best and worst of life in the Atlantic 10. The conference provides the same lessons every season. Of course, this year, many of Dayton’s players are learning them for the first time.
Road victories never come easy. Home is sweet. No team is unbeatable. No team can be overlooked. Things are rarely as good or as bad as they appear.
Dayton lost 70-62 Saturday at Duquesne and then beat St. Bonaventure 82-72 Wednesday at UD Arena. The Dukes were picked to finish last in the conference. The Bonnies were picked second and even received a first-place vote.
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This victory doesn’t make Dayton (7-7, 1-1) the new favorite or lesson the chance St. Bonaventure (11-3, 1-1) will contend. What it does is provide hope for a young team trying to find its way in the first year of the Anthony Grant era.
“Overall, if there’s a lesson learned, it’s that we need everybody on our team to be locked in and on the same page,” Grant said. “When we do that, we’re capable of beating anybody on our schedule.”
Here are four reasons the Flyers beat the Bonnies to earn Grant his 200th career victory:
1. The Flyers moved past the Duquesne loss: Grant paused for a second when asked in the postgame press conference what happened between Saturday and Wednesday to make this victory possible.
“That’s the game of basketball,” Grant said. “Saturday wasn’t one of our better performances, but the beautiful thing about it is you get to play again. We learned from that.”
In his answer, Grant eventually got around to mentioning two key players who saw no action in the second half at Duquesne: Kostas Antetokounmpo and Xeyrius Williams.
Antetokounmpo had eight points and five rebounds in 19 minutes and was on the floor in the final minutes. Williams didn’t put up big numbers (no points and three rebounds) but at least played 16 minutes. That was 10 more than Saturday.
“It was great to see individual guys take accountability and step up and bounce back and have big performances tonight,” Grant said. “I thought we got really good minutes out of a lot of guys tonight, which is what we need. We’ve talked about this before in terms of needing some consistency in terms of how we play. I think it was good to see some guys step up and answer the bell. We got really good minutes off the bench out of Kostas. I thought X came in and did a really good job for us.”
2. Darrell Davis was the best player on the court: St. Bonaventure’s senior guards Jaylen Adams and Matt Mobley are one of the best tandems in the country. Both made the preseason first team in the A-10. Mobley scored all 24 of his points in the second half. Adams finished with 15. However, the standout player was Dayton’s senior guard Davis, who topped his career high by one point.
Davis scored 14 points in the first half and 14 in the second. He made 4 of 7 3-pointers in the first half to help stake Dayton to a 39-25 halftime lead. He made 10 of 10 free throws in the second half to seal the victory.
“It feels good to beat St. Bonaventure,” Davis said. “They’re a good team. They have one of the best backcourts in the country. It’s a terrific win. It’s a good win for coach Grant. I’m happy we won the game.”
3. Trey Landers played his best game: Dayton’s sophomore guard scored a career-high 17 points on 6-of-8 shooting. He added a career-high four blocks to go with five rebounds and three steals.
“We have this thing called hustle stats, and he just checked off everything on the board,” Davis said. “He competed. He rebounded. He took charges. I give him a lot of credit.”
4. Jalen Crutcher showed improvement: The freshman point guard’s up-and-down season has mirrored his team’s. He lost his starting job to John Crosby, got it back when Crosby missed the Duquesne game with a concussion and kept it Wednesday.
Crutcher scored in double figures in back-to-back games against Auburn and Mississippi State but hadn’t scored more than seven points in the last six games. Then he scored 12 against the Bonnies, making 5 of 8 shots from the field. He added six assists.
Crutcher didn’t leave the floor in the second half. He also had the job of guarding Adams for most of the night. Adams made 3 of 11 shots from the field.
“We asked a lot of him from a defensive standpoint,” Grant said. “He was up to the challenge tonight. That’s an opportunity for him to understand what it’s all about. To go out and guard a guy like that who’s really dynamic, I thought he did a pretty good job. He made him work for what he got. Also to run our team for 36 minutes against a veteran team, against pressure, I thought he did a really good job.”
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