Jalen Crutcher’s scoring burst lifts Dayton Flyers over UMass

Dayton guard scores 11 points in under two minutes

Jalen Crutcher picked a good time to transform into Jalen Clutcher.

Two years after missing what would have been a game-winning buzzer-beater at the Mullins Center, Crutcher didn't face a similar dramatic moment, but what he did in a 113-second stretch in the second half Saturday was as impressive as anything any member of the Dayton Flyers has accomplished this season.

No. 6 Dayton beat Massachusetts 71-63 in part because Crutcher scored 11 points from the 8:56 mark to the 7:03 mark in the second half.

“I knew my teammates needed it,” Crutcher said. “I just had to go out there and do what was best for the team at the time. When I hit my first shot, that was when I was feeling it. It was on from there.”

With the shot clock winding down, Crutcher made a 3-pointer to give Dayton a 49-41 lead. He made another 3-pointer at the 8:22 mark to push the lead to 11 points. Then he scored on a layup with 7:50 to play. After a basket by UMass, Crutcher finished his scoring spurt a 3-pointer at the 7:03 mark.

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The junior point guard finished with 17 points on 5-of-11 shooting. He took over the game three minutes after Obi Toppin, who led the Flyers with 19 points, went to the bench with his third foul.

“It was amazing,” Toppin said of watching Crutcher. “We have a lot of trust in Jalen. Every single time he’s on the court, he’s always going to do good for the team. We have a lot of confidence in him, and he has a lot of confidence in himself. He’s always going to do whatever he can to help the team win.”

Crutcher helped Dayton (23-2, 12-0) extend its winning streak to 14 games. It’s the longest winning streak for the program since it won 14 straight from the 1961-62 season into the 1962-63 season. It’s the longest winning streak in one season since 1957-58.

The Flyers own their best record through 25 games since 1957-58 and can pass that team with a victory Tuesday at Virginia Commonwealth.

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Dayton won despite 17 turnovers, three of which helped UMass trim a 16-point deficit to 67-63 with 14 seconds remaining. Crutcher and Dwayne Cohill each made two free throws in the final 12 seconds to seal the victory.

Crutcher had two of Dayton’s turnovers. He also had five assists and four rebounds in a team-high 36 minutes. Dayton coach Anthony Grant praised Crutcher’s maturity on a day when Dayton did not play its best.

The Flyers led 31-26 at halftime — not a big lead considering it went on a 15-0 run and held UMass scoreless for a nine-minute stretch.

“Most of our guys kind of didn’t play in character today, especially in that first half,” Grant said. “(Crutcher’s) ability to move on and move forward and understand what we came here to try to accomplish and what needed to happen, I thought he really stepped up. He played with tremendous poise and confidence, and his teammates kind of fed off that energy.”

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Crutcher delivered his scoring run with a little-used lineup on the court. Jhery Matos, Cohill, Jordy Tshimanga — the three players who receive the fewest minutes per game — joined starters Crutcher and Trey Landers. Matos, Cohill and Tshimanga combined for 13 points.

“I thought we got great minutes off the bench,” Grant said. “Jhery was really good. I thought he played a heck of a game. Jordy gave us some really good minutes and did some good things. Dwayne came in and gave us a nice boost. Guys understood at the end of the day it’s about coming out with the win.”


Dayton at VCU, 8:30 p.m., CBS Sports Network, 1290 and 95.7 WHIO

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