Flyers show spunk in double OT win at St. Bona

By HAL McCOY

On paper, it may have looked as if the University of Dayton basketball teams had an easy assignment Saturday afternoon in Olean, N.Y.

They were playing St. Bonaventure, owner of a 6-and-11 record and missing its two starting guards, out with concussion protocols.

But they don’t play on paper. They play at Reilly Center, a place the Bonnies defend with ferocious tenacity. They hadn’t lost an Atlantic 10 home game in more than two years and had won 14 straight A-10 games in the comforts of home.

Well, the Flyers took care of that, taking the Bonnies into double overtime before snatching away a gut-wrenching 89-86 victory.

And they did it with their heart and soul, Jalen ‘Crunch Time’ Crutcher sitting on the bench after he fouled out late in the first overtime.

And they did it despite a staggering 36-point, 10-rebound performance by Bonnies senior forward/guard Courtney Stockard.

After building an early nine-point lead, 18-9, the Flyers were outscored 16-5 late in the half and fell behind, 34-31.

And they fell behind by 10, 56-46 with eight minutes left and it looked as if the Bonnies would leave the Flyers crumpled in a snow bank.

UD was still in arrears, 63-55, with 4 1/2 minutes left. The Flyers put on a 10-1 sprint and a three-ball by Crutcher gave UD its first second half lead, 65-64, with 2 1/ minutes left.

From there, it became a free-for-all, a scrappy, knee-scraping wrestling match by both teams as they changed back-and-forth.

The Flyers took the lead, 69-68, on an Obi Toppin basket on a pass from Ryan Mikesell with 30 seconds left. St. Bona freshman Kyle Lofton had two free throws with 10 seconds left and made only one to tie it. Crutcher missed a desperation three at the buzzer to send it into overtime.

St. Bona scored first in the first overtime before Ryan Mikesell hit a three and Jordan Davis scored on a fast break after Toppin blocked a shot to give the Flyers a 74-71 lead.

Bonnies freshman Dominick Welch hit a three to tie it and Crutcher hit another three to push the Flyers in front, 77-74. St. Bona hit a follow-up shot after making a free throw to re-knot it 77-all and Jordan Davis turned it over at the buzzer.

With their ball-handling, penetrating, three-point shooting point guard (Crutcher) on the bench, Jordan Davis assumed control of the ball and the offense.

Davis hit a floater down the lane with a minute left to push the Flyers to an 84-81 lead. After Stockard hit a jumper, Davis hit a long three from the popcorn machine in the lobby with the shot clock expiring to give UD an 84-81 lead with a minute left.

Undaunted and not flustered, Stockard scored again, his 36th points, with 36 seconds left.

Davis responded again with another three, St. Bona scored to draw back within one and Ryan Mikesell hit two free throws with three seconds left for a three-point lead.

La Darien Griffin fired a shot at the buzzer that would have tied it, but it clanked off the rim to end it.

Ryan Mikesell, a blue collar player who does so much and works so diligently he should wear a hard hat on the court, led the Flyers with 21 points, tying his career-high. And when neither defensive whiz Jordan Davis nor Trey Landers could put a stopper on St. Bona’s Stockard, Mikesell took the challenge down the stretch and cast a shadow over every step he took.

It was fortunate the Flyers had Mikesell at the foul line with three seconds left. He was eight-for-eight at the line and the rest of the Flyers were 11 for 20. And Mikesell snagged eight rebounds.

UD had six players in double figures — Mikesell, Crutcher 15, Josh Cunningham 14, Trey Landers 14, Jordan Davis 13 and Obi Toppin, who came off the bench to score 10 on five-for-five shooting that included three dunks.

To get his career-best 36, Stockard took 30 shots. He made 13 and was 4 for 13 from three. Griffin scored 18 and Lofton added 11.

The game began like a pick-up game at the Cronin Center on the UD campus. Neither team could score in the first four minutes.

The Bonnies missed their first 10 shots and the Flyers missed four straight point-blank lay-ups off drives.

UD finally uncorked the lid off the basket and built an 11-3 lead. Josh Cunningham hit a drive-and-one three-point play to give the Flyers a 26-18 lead with five minutes left in the half.

Then it go ugly for the Flyers. St. Bona exploited the middle of UD’s 1-1-3 zone defense with some driving floaters, led by Stockard, who scored 18 in the first 20 minutes.

It turned into a 16-5 breakout that gave the Bonnies a 34-31 lead at halftime. Then came that second half for the ages, or aging if you are UD coach Anthony Grant.

It lifted the Flyers to 4-and-1 in the A-10 and was only their third road win against two losses during their 12-and-5 season (not counting neutral sites). UD, 9-and-1 at home, take on George Mason Wednesday night in UD Arena in an Atlantic 10 match-up.

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