VCU’s attacking defense pays off late in victory against Dayton

Highlights: Dayton scoreless in final four minutes in loss to VCU on Feb. 9, 2021

Flyers outscored 8-0 in final four minutes as they lose again to Rams

One pass by Jalen Crutcher bounced off Jordy Tshimanga’s hands in the paint. Mustapha Amzil then ran into a Virginia Commonwealth defender and lost the ball. One possession later, Tshimanga couldn’t get a good shot as three VCU defenders surrounded him, though one slapped his arm as he shot.

Just like that, a promising comeback fizzed for the Dayton Flyers, who played better the second time around against VCU, who won the first matchup 66-43 on Jan. 23, but lost just the same — this time 76-67 on Tuesday at UD Arena.

Those three possessions — and every other possession in the final four minutes — doomed Dayton. The Rams outscored Dayton 8-0 in that stretch, taking all the drama out of a close game.

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Dayton did much better in every offensive category compared to the first game but saw just how good the VCU defense can be when it mattered the most.

“That’s one of their skills,” Dayton guard Elijah Weaver said. “They attack you the whole game.”

VCU entered the game with the 14th-most efficient defense in the country, according to KenPom.com Dayton shot 30.9 percent from the field (17 of 55) and 15 percent (3 of 20) from 3-point range in the first game and 48.9 percent from the field (22 of 45) and 52.6 percent from 3-point range (10 of 19) in this game).

Turnovers were the big difference in this game. VCU took nine more shots because Dayton had twice as many turnovers (16-8). VCU outscored Dayton 29-8 in points off turnovers. Four turnovers in the final four minutes sealed the loss.

“It is frustrating when you get all the way there, and you’re not able to get over the hump,” Weaver said. “We’re going to learn from it. We’ll be back in the same position for sure. We’ll know what to do next time.”

The victory keeps VCU (14-4, 7-2) among the top contenders for the Atlantic 10 Conference regular-season championship, while Dayton (11-6, 7-5) now has an uphill climb to finish in the top four and earn a double-bye in the A-10 tournament.

VCU made a season-high 12 3-pointers on 23 attempts. Vince Williams made 5 of 8 3-pointers and scored 19 points. Nah’Shon Hyland also had 19 points and made 4 of 5 3-pointers.

Ibi Watson scored 20 points on 5-of-7 shooting from long range. Elijah Weaver scored 10 points. Jordy Tshimanga had 14 points and 12 rebounds.

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For the second time, VCU held Dayton’s top scorer on the season, Jalen Crutcher to single digits. He had four points on 2-of-7 shooting in the first game and eight points on 3-of-11 shooting in this game. He did lead Dayton with eight assists.

Crutcher’s layup with 4:41 to play cut VCU’s lead to 68-67, but Dayton didn’t score again.

“You’ve got to give credit to VCU,” Dayton coach Anthony Grant said. “They played a heck of a game. They had guys that stepped up and made plays. They’re a difficult team to go against with the pressure they apply. They force you to do things you normally don’t have to do and they take you out of your comfort zone. Tonight it affected us.”

SATURDAY’S GAME

Saint Joseph’s at Dayton, 2 p.m., Spectrum News 1, 1290, 95.7

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