How good was No. 7 Dayton on Wednesday night in its 86-60 rout of Atlantic 10 Conference rival St. Bonaventure? The Flyers nearly had as many assists (25) as the Bonnies had rebounds (28).
That ball movement helped Dayton shoot 64.8 percent from the field, strengthening its grip on first place in the conference. It will face a challenge to that throne Saturday night when it visits Richmond for a first-place showdown.
At 17-2 overall and 6-0 in the conference, the Flyers are one of the nation’s more explosive offensive teams. They have not been held under 71 points in any game, and are averaging 82.5 ppg in their six conference wins.
“I thought our guys did a really good job of sharing the ball (Wednesday),” Dayton coach Anthony Grant said to the Dayton Daily News. “When you see 25 assists, that’s a really good number.”
The Flyers are led by national player of the year candidate Obi Toppin, averaging 19.5 points on 62.3-percent shooting from the field. No player in the country dunks more than Toppin, who has 63 of them through 19 games.
Jalen Crutcher averages 14.2 points and 5.1 assists per game, connecting on 41.1 percent of his 3-pointers. Sixth man Ibi Watson (11.8 ppg, 46.8 percent 3-pointers) and Trey Landers (11.2 ppg, 5.8 rebounds) also average in double figures for Dayton, which as a team is making 52.5 percent of its field goals.
Crutcher, whose 3-pointer with less than a second left delivered an overtime win for the Flyers on Jan. 17 at Saint Louis, is scoring nearly three points more per game in conference games (16.8).
“He’s really good not only scoring, but facilitating and making plays for his teammates,” Grant said.
Crutcher, Toppin and their teammates need to be at or near their best to handle Richmond (15-4, 5-1) and a sold-out crowd at the Robins Center. The Spiders tuned up for this big game by whipping LaSalle 75-57 on Wednesday night.
Grant Golden, a 6-foot-10, 255-pound forward, worked over the Explorers inside for 15 points in just 16 minutes, hitting all six of his field-goal attempts. Freshman forward Tyler Burton chipped in 14 points and nine rebounds, both career highs.
“I’m really pleased with the win and I thought we played exceptionally well defensively,” Richmond coach Chris Mooney said. “Our defense right from the beginning of the game made it tough on them to score. We contested shots, we rebounded well. I thought our defense throughout really won us the game.”
The Spiders’ record is their best through 19 games since the 1987-88 team started 16-3. They are 9-1 at home, with their only loss to Saint Louis on Jan. 11.
–Field Level Media