The Dayton Flyers men’s basketball team didn’t finish as strong as it started Saturday’s game, but a dominant first half proved good enough for the win.
Dayton cruised to an 81-69 win over Presbyterian College in front of a sellout crowd of 13,147 fans at UD Arena after jumping out to a 45-17 halftime lead.
The Blue Hose (6-7) scored 52 points in the second half but couldn’t overcome such a large deficit as the Flyers held onto a double-digit lead for the final 28 minutes. Dayton (7-5) next plays Dec. 29 at home against Georgia Southern.
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Here are five takeaways from the Flyers’ second straight win:
1. Executing the game plan
Dayton knew Presbyterian had some strong 3-point shooters in its starting lineup and focused on trying to keep the Blue Hose inside the paint or forcing bad shots from the perimeter.
The Flyers did exactly that in the first half, as Presbyterian shot just 18.8 percent, making just 6 of 32 field goals, including 4 of 16 from behind the arc. Their top three double-digit scorers for the season combined for just 10 points in the first half.
“In the first half, we came out strong and just went with our game plan on defense and we stuck to it,” guard Jalen Crutcher said. “… Our defense was the key.”
Meanwhile, Dayton made 76 percent of its shots and got 15 points off fast breaks.
The Flyers finished the first half on a 21-4 run over the final eight minutes, including an 8-0 run sparked by Crutcher’s 3-pointer, steal and layup.
“I thought the first half our guys were really locked in, did a great job from a scouting report standpoint,” coach Anthony Grant said. “Offensively, I thought we did a good job as well, being aggressive and attacking them.”
2. Too many mistakes in second half
The Flyers led by as many as 29 points early in the second half, but Presbyterian started to get to the rim for some easy baskets in transition and knocked down 10 treys to help cut the deficit in half with six minutes to go.
The Blue Hose shot 47.5 percent for the second half, scored nine points off turnovers and had 12 second-chance points. Adam Flagler and Francois Lewis each finished with 20 points.
“I thought we had a lot of mistakes, a lot of breakdowns from a defensive standpoint in terms of what we talked about needing to do,” Grant said. “We gave them some opportunities they shouldn’t have had, whether it be our primary defense or second shots, long rebounds they got that translated into multiple 3-point opportunities they never should have gotten.” .”
3. Setting a bad trend
Dayton guard Trey Landers said it seems to be a trend for the Flyers to build up a lead and then let up in the second half, and that has to be a focus as an area of improvement going forward.
The Flyers are 5-1 when leading at the half, but opponents average 35 points against them in the second half compared to 32.4 points in the first half of games.
“There’s stuff for us to work on, and when you have a lead, you tend to take a step back, which was bad for us today,” Landers said. “You’re always supposed to keep your foot on the gas in those types of games, but they ended up making a run and we were efficient enough down the stretch to keep the lead and obviously win by 12.”
4. Three big performances
Three players reached double digits in scoring for Dayton, led by Crutcher’s 19 points, Jordan Davis’ 18 points and Landers’ 15 points to go along with a team-high 14 rebounds.
“We’ve got about six guys hovering around double figures so that’s the type of team we have,” Grant said. “On any given night, we have different guys that will step up.”
Crutcher tallied his 10th straight double-digit performance, but the game marked a big improvement for Davis, who had combined for just 10 points over the past two games. Landers said it was good to see him getting back into a rhythm and hitting shots.
Landers’ double-double was his sixth this season.
5. Closing out a tough week
The Flyers were playing their third game in seven days, which made their first-half performance that much more impressive. Grant said most of their preparation was mental because of the busy schedule this week, and he did not believe fatigue was a factor in the second half.
Dayton broke for Christmas break after the game and are expected back on campus Wednesday night.
“I definitely feel like we earned this little break,” Landers said. “It was a tough week playing three games, and this is that time of year you look forward to spending some time with family so it will be good to get away from it a little bit and then get back to work next week.”
Georgia Southern at Dayton, 3:30 p.m., NBCSN, AM 1290 and News 95.7 WHIO
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