By HAL McCOY
It was almost as if University of Dayton basketball coach Anthony Grant sat his team down after a plug-ugly loss at Saint Louis early in the week and said as they watched video, “Don’t do that, don’t do that and don’t do that. Do this and do this and do this.”
And perhaps he did and if he did his Flyers were intent listeners.
After doing every possible wrong at Saint Louis in a 13-point loss, the Flyers did everything right Saturday at Rhode Island, romping and stomping their way to a 77-48 victory.
It was Rhode Island’s worst loss of the season (12-11) perhaps Dayton’s best game of the season, certainly its best on the road. UD’s resume expanded to 16-and-8 overall and 8-and-3 in the Atlantic 10.
Against Saint Louis Tuesday, the Flyers fell behind 10-0 and 17-4. They were not about to let that happen Saturday, even though they were playing in Rhode Island’s Ryan Center in front of the Rams’ first sellout this season.
The Flyers kept the crowd quiet and ensconced in its seats, putting the pedal to the metal from the time the ball was tossed into the air. This time it was the Flyers leaping to a 12-0 lead and a 27-7 lead.
Rhode Island missed its first eight shots and the Flyers were off and running and running and running.
With 10 minutes left in the half the Flyers were up 27-7. Rhode Island put on a mild flourish to end the half, its only flourish of the game to pull within 41-27. Obi Toppin, getting his second straight start, poured in 15 first-half points.
And the Rams tried to dig their way back into competition early in the second half, pulling to within 12 with 16 1/2 minutes left, 44-32.
The Flyers stomped the accelerator once again, a 10-2 run over the next five minutes and the lead was a game-high 22 at that point and the Rams were kaput.
After Saint Louis buried the Flyers with a flurry of offensive rebounds, 19 of them, coach Anthony Grant stressed boxing out, rebounding and defense for this one.
The Flyers were superior in all of those facets. They outrebounded Rhode Island, 37-25. They held the Rams to 29.6 per cent shooting (16 for 54, 3 for 19 from three). Meanwhile, the Flyers shot the ball with dead-on accuracy, 31 of 49 (69.3 per cent).
And while they couldn’t throw the ball in the Mississippi River off a paddleboat in St. Louis, especially from three, the Flyers worked the ball inside against Rhode Island, taking only 12 shots from three and making six.
Defensively, Dayton’s guard completely shut down Rhode Island point guard Fats Russell — zero points. In fact, the only Rams to do anything was Cyril Langevine, the only Rhodie in double figures with 23 to go with 10 rebounds.
Toppin finished with 19 after scoring 15 in the first half, making 8 of 10 from the field, including a three-pointer. Guard Jalen Crutcher led the Flyers with 20 (7 0f 12 and 2 of 4 from three), Josh Cunningham contributed 13 on 6 of 9 shooting. Ryan Mikesell scored only four, but led the Flyers with seven rebounds.
Walk-on guard Cameron Greer punctuated the massive victory in the game’s dying moment by banking home a three, his first collegiate points.
Virginia Commonwealth and Davidson are tied atop the A-10 at 8-and-2 and Dayton is a half-game behind at 8-and-3. The stinkeroo they left in Saint Louis prevented them from occupying first place today.
And they will take a shot a VCU Saturday n UD Arena.