By HAL McCOY
The script was familiar for the University of Dayton basketball team Saturday night in Richmond. And as long as it works, why not keep using it?
As they have done time and time and time again this season, the Flyers used some explosive runs to score an 87-79 victory over a feisty University of Richmond.
The Flyers were down four points, 28-24, late in the first half. They finished the half on a 16-4 run to take a 40-32 halftime lead.
Richmond scored the first basket of the second half, then the Flyers went on a 12-0 splurge to grab a 52-34 lead.
Was it over? Usually when the Flyers rip off a rowdy run, the opponent goes away. Not Richmond, a team that was 14-5 with a win over Wisconsin and a 5-1 record in the Atlantic 10.
Not even when the Flyers led by 20, 64-44, with eight minutes left did Richmond call it quits. The Spiders went on their own run, a 17-5 sprint that pulled them within eight, 71-63.
Guess who came riding to the rescue? Yes, Mr. Clutcher himself, Jalen Crutcher. He buried a three from the left corner with 3:20 left to give the Flyers a 74-63 lead.
The Spiders kept hanging around and were within six, 82-76, but Crutcher struck again with a pair of free throws and the Flyers fended them off the rest of the way.
It was a big night for UD roommates — Crutcher and Obi Toppin. Crutcher scored a career-high 24 points and added eight rebounds and seven assists.
With 10 NBA scouts scattered around Robins Arena, Toppin put on his usual eye-popping show — 24 points, 12 rebounds, four blocked shots and three assists.
And, of course, there were the slam dunks, five of them, including one wind mill that belonged among the dikes in The Netherlands. His double-double was his fifth this season.
His dunk totals keep mounting — 151 for his career of less than two years, 68 this season.
Toppin appears to carry a grudge against the commonwealth of Virginia. He scored 24 against Virginia Tech, 24 against Virginia Commonwealth and 24 against Richmond.
As usual, Ibi Watson came off the bench to do stellar work, contributing 14 points, while Ryan Mikesell scored 10 and snagged seven rebounds.
Once again the Flyers not only shot the lights out, they unscrewed the bulbs, hitting 53 per cent (29 for 54). Crutcher was 8 for 12 that included four of seven three-pointers. Toppin was 9 for 15.
A pair of Spiders spun a tough web on the Flyers. Jacob Gilyard, a 5-foot-9 bottle of energy, scored 29. He is the guy who hit eight threes against the Flyers last year. He only made five Saturday, but only tried eight.
Gilyard had help from Nick Sherod with 21 points. Gilyard only averages 14 and Sherod averages 13.
Crunching the numbers: The seventh-ranked Flyers are 18-2 and 7-0 in the Atlantic 10. They’ve won nine straight and are 4-0 on the road. They have beaten Richmond eight straight times. The Spiders were 9-and-1 at home when UD came calling.
“Richmond has a very good team and they showed it,” said UD coach Anthony Grant. “They have a lot of fight. We got up big but they didn’t quit.
“Our guys persevered because we got into foul trouble early (Trey Landers picked up three midway through the first half).”
Grant, alway a man with a plan, especially defensively, was more than pleased with this important A-10 win.
“Our guys did a great job of following the scouting report it taking some things away from them,” he said. “We’re still a work in progress, but we’re meeting the challenges that come up with every game. To be able to go out and get a win on the road in this environment is good for our team. Just two years ago, we did not win a game on the road.”