The Dayton Flyers have a pregame tradition at UD Arena. All the players jump in the air at the same time as Obi Toppin dunks. It was makes for fun photos and videos.
» NOTES: Duquesne coach praises UD fans
On Saturday, in the 27th game of the season, the Flyers switched it up. They gave the ball to walk-on Camron Greer, the team’s shortest player. On his first try, the 5-foot-6 Greer waited for Trey Landers and Toppin to pick him up. They did, only to stop him from attempting a dunk.
Landers and Toppin made up for it by giving Greer a lift on the second attempt, raising him off the ground only to have him clang the ball off the rim. There was no third attempt.
“It was something we thought we would try that was new,” Landers said, “but Cam kind of blew that audition.”
Asked if Greer would get another shot, Toppin said, “Maybe.”
» MILESTONE: Toppin joins 1,000-point club
That was one of the few misses at the baskets for the Flyers, who made 21 of 33 shots (63.6 percent) from 2-point range in an 80-70 victory against Duquesne. The first regular-season game at UD Arena featuring a top-five team since 1984 — it was No. 3 DePaul then and it was No. 5 Dayton in this game — turned with a dominant performance by Dayton in the second half.
The Flyers (25-2, 14-0) won their 16th straight game, the longest winning streak for the program since 1958, by outscoring Duquesne 30-11 in the first 12 minutes of the second half, turning a 38-36 halftime deficit into a 66-49 lead.
“To put it mildly, it was a tale of two halves,” Dayton coach Anthony Grant said. “The first half, we were out of character. Credit to Duquesne. They came in with great focus. They did a good job of being disruptive, attacking. The second half, our guys kind of flipped it.”
Grant credited with Ryan Mikesell for setting the tone by drawing three fouls in the opening minutes of the second half. However, it was another scoring spurt by Jalen Crutcher that pushed Dayton’s lead into double digits for the first time. He didn’t score in the first half and had 17 in the second half.
» RECORD: Toppin breaks his own dunk mark
One week after scoring 11 points in 113 seconds in the second half in a 71-63 victory at Massachusetts, Crutcher scored 11 points in 153 seconds. He helped turn a 43-42 lead into a 54-45 advantage.
Crutcher made 7 of 7 free throws. In the last five games, he has made 36 of 38. His ability to get to the line has become a big weapon for Dayton.
“I thought tonight they were really aggressive,” Grant said, “and he did a good job attacking, especially there late when they started pressing. We want the ball in his hands. He makes great decisions and is a really good finisher and decision maker.”
Toppin led the Flyers with 28 points and joined the 1,000-point club with a dunk in the second half. He also set the school’s single-season dunk record. He dunked a record 83 times last season and has 89 this season.
Landers recorded a double-double with 12 points and 11 rebounds. Baylee Steele and Marcus Weathers each scored 17 points for Duquesne (18-8, 8-6).
The Dukes joined Saint Louis in the small group of teams that have led Dayton at halftime, but there was no doubt on the Dayton bench and little doubt throughout the sellout crowd of 13,407 of what would happen in the second half. The Flyers became the first Atlantic 10 Conference team since George Washington in 2006 to start 14-0.
“Every team is going to go on runs,” Landers said. “It’s all about weathering the storm. We haven’t been through much adversity this year. It’s really rare for us to be down in the first half. We just had to come together.”
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