Dayton Flyers forward Obi Toppin electrified his teammates, a sellout crowd at UD Arena and all of college basketball with one of the best dunks anyone has ever seen in a game. He took the ball between his legs while in the air before slamming it home with one hand on a fast break Saturday at UD Arena.
“I just felt good leaking out and getting the pass from Jalen (Crutcher),” Toppin said. “I just felt good jumping. I do it a lot in practice, so I just had the confidence to do it.”
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Dayton coach Anthony Grant didn’t crack a smile or react with glee — as all of Toppin’s teammates did — when Toppin dunked with 6:05 left against Georgia Southern. The dunk gave Dayton a 79-68 lead but didn’t seal a victory. The Flyers (8-5) had to survive a major rally by Georgia Southern in the final minutes before escaping with a 94-90 victory.
The near collapse by the Flyers will stick with Grant more than the highlight-reel dunk.
“I’m happy it went in,”Grant said, “but as a freshman, you have to understand time and score and understand situations. You have to understand the game a little bit. Because it went in, it’s a play the crowd gets excited about. Those are potentially momentum-swinging plays. I think it was a three-possession game at the time. (The dunk) was a little risque for my tastes, but not very many people on this earth can make that play. I know it’s a highlight play, and it’ll probably be on SportsCenter, but at the end of the day, as a competitor, you play to win. You have to put that at the forefront of everything else.”
Toppin scored 22 points on 9-of-10 shooting. Josh Cunningham scored 25 points and made 10 of 14 shots. Trey Landers had nine points, 10 rebounds and four assists.
Crutcher added 17 points and made 4 of 4 free throws in the final 13 seconds to seal the victory.
Dayton led 47-34 at halftime and pushed its lead to as as many as 16 points early in the second half but saw the lead trimmed to 85-84 with 2:43 to play and 87-86 with 2:08 to play. A 3-pointer by Jordan Davis, who scored 13 points, at the 1:52 mark gave Dayton a four-point cushion entering the final stretch.
Georgia Southern got back in the game by shooting 60 percent (9 of 15) from 3-point range and 65.6 percent from the field (21 of 32) in the second half. Quan Jackson scored 24 points for the Eagles (8-5). Tookie Brown added 20.
Dayton has been outscored in the second half by a combined 30 points in three of the last four games. It outscored Western Michigan by one in the other game.
“Just being honest, the pattern we’re showing here of late is not the identity we want to have as a basketball team,” Grant said. “I look at the last three games — Tulsa, Presbyterian and now this one — and there’s a concerning trend in terms of the way we compete, the way we hold ourselves and allow ourselves to be held accountable in terms of what we do and the opportunities we have. We just closed out the non-conference portion of the schedule — 13 games in — and as we prepare for the conference, we have to be better. We have to understand that and recognize that. We have to grow up as a team.”
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