Dayton turned the ball over in every way imaginable Friday in an 81-56 loss to No. 18 Rhode Island at the Ryan Center.
There were 13 turnovers in the first half. There were nine in the second half. The Rams forced some turnovers. The Flyers could only blame themselves most of the time. Lazy passes hurt. They made bad decisions. Everybody who played double-figure minutes committed at least one turnover.
Of course, the turnover issue isn’t new. It has plagued Dayton (13-15, 7-9) for 28 games. That weakness played right into Rhode Island’s hands. Opponents average 16.6 turnovers against the Rams, who lead the Atlantic 10 in that category.
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Rhode Island (23-4, 15-1) clinched the A-10 outright regular-season title for the first time with this victory.
“They’re really good,” Dayton coach Anthony Grant said. “The cumulative effect of their pressure took its toll. We had guys that played long stretches that over the course of a 40-minute game couldn’t sustain what we started early.”
Dayton averages 13.9 turnovers. That’s the worst mark in the A-10. The Flyers had 21 turnovers in the first loss to Rhode Island, an 88-74 defeat on Jan. 20 at UD Arena.
In this game, the turnovers combined with Dayton’s poor shooting in the second half (16.7 percent from the field) and a Rhode Island hot streak (64.3 percent in the second half) to turn the game into a blowout.
The Rams led 36-34 at halftime. Dayton trailed 39-38 two minutes into the second half. That’s where the game turned. Dayton never recovered after a 9-0 run by the Rams in the next two-plus minutes.
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Jalen Crutcher led Dayton with six turnovers. He had only one assist. That was a big departure from his recent play. He ranked fourth in A-10 games in assist-to-turnover ration (2.3) entering the game.
Darrell Davis, Josh Cunningham and Kostas Antetokounmpo all had four turnovers. Trey Landers had two. Jordan Davis and Matej Svoboda each had one.
Rhode Island outscored Dayton 24-9 in points scored off turnovers and 12-2 in fast-break points.
“(Turnovers) turned the game around for them,” Landers said.