Dayton had all the momentum entering overtime thanks to a 16-1 run in the last 3:13 of the second half. Jalen Crutcher, who led the Flyers with 21 points, hit a 3-pointer to start the comeback.
“We just had to stick together and keep playing as a team and keep the ball moving,” Crutcher said.
Jordan Davis hit a 3-pointer with 1:46 to play to trim VCU’s lead to 78-69. A 3-point play by Josh Cunningham, two free throws by Davis and then a 3-pointer by Crutcher with 11 seconds to go cut the deficit to 78-77.
After VCU’s Jonathan Williams made 1 of 2 free throws with seven seconds remaining, Crutcher lobbed the ball to Josh Cunningham for a game-tying layup with 0.1 seconds left.
“That was the plan,” Crutcher said. “If Josh’s man didn’t show up on me, drive to the goal and get a layup, and if he does, throw the alley-oop.”
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Dayton held VCU to five points in the final six minutes. Justin Tillman, who scored 14 straight points early in the second half for the Rams and finished with 37 points, didn’t get a shot in that stretch. In overtime, however, VCU looked for him, and he responded.
“Most of the time, the team that takes the momentum into overtime has the advantage, but we had Justin today,” VCU coach Mike Rhoades said. “That was our advantage. That was the advantage in the game. Our guys moved on and we played a good five minutes there.”
Dayton shot 50 percent in the first half and led 40-38 at halftime thanks to a halfcourt 3-pointer at the buzzer by Crutcher. The Flyers had eight turnovers in the first half and then 11 in the second half. That was a big reason the Rams surged ahead with a 14-0 run midway through the second half.
Dayton looked to have no chance with 6:38 to play, trailing 74-57, and with 3:29 to go, trailing 78-63. Then the momentum turned.
“I thought we had a lot of turnovers there in the second half that hurt us and took away some opportunities,” Grant said. “We missed some shots we’re capable of making. VCU had something to do with that obviously. We were just able to rediscover our rhythm a little bit. Once you see one go in, then you start to have success. We were getting stops on the other end. It was a difficult night getting stops. VCU did a great job getting the ball to Tillman inside. He was a load.”