#5 Dayton took all they could handle against a tough VCU squad, but came away with a victory at the Siegel Center, 66-61. The Flyers extended their winning streak to 15 games and improved their record to 13-0 in A10 play. VCU dropped their third game in a row as well as their conference record to 7-6. Let’s get to some takeaways for both teams.
Dayton is more than Obi Toppin
We hope the rest of the country took notice of Dayton without the scoring and contributions of Obi Toppin, who struggled offensively after hitting the game’s opening three-pointer. Many have criticized Dayton and their high ranking due to Obi, but this win reflected the team as a whole. Of course people know about Jalen Crutcher, who dropped in 18 points on 4-9 shooting and 8-8 from the line. But the rest of the team chipped in where the team needed them. Landers and Mikesell posted double figures, including 12 combined rebounds, Watson came off the bench to give the team a much needed bench spark with 7 points, and Dwayne Cohill (more on him later), contributed with stifling defense and clutch free throws down the stretch. This team is much more than Obi Toppin.
This is Bones Hyland’s Team Now
Bones was the only guy to do anything against Dayton in both games this season. Santos-Silva did put up an impressive 12 points and 17 rebounds, but this team has always been led by Marcus Evans, who was out with a knee injury and has been up and down all season because of that same injury. Bones got the start again and did not disappoint. The freshman point guard tortured the Dayton’s defense with 18 points on 7-14 shooting. He was constantly driving the hole to the basket or getting open for a three, where he went 3-6. The only negative part of his game last night was his foul trouble. Bones picked up his 4th foul with about 5 minutes to go in the game, which really hurt the team as he was the only consistent offense on the night. With Evans being gone after this year, it seems the reigns of Bones Hyland are gradually taking over this VCU Rams team.
The Dwayne Cohill Game
It seems that every season, Dayton has that one game where one player makes a huge impact on the court, on the score sheet, or both. For this season and this game, it was Dwayne Cohill. The sophomore guard, who has been known for his stifling defense, came in due to foul trouble on Chatman and Landers and played 22 minutes of outstanding ball. Cohill was not only a presence on the defensive end for the Flyers, but he also hit a HUGE corner three in the second half. Wait, but he also hit 3-4 free throws, including 2 big ones to ice the game with under a minute to go. This is exactly the perfect game for him to find his role and contributions to this team. He can come in and give you some good minutes on defense as well as knock down a few shots if need be. The kid is only going to get better.
VCU Never Backed Down
Credit to VCU where it is due, they gave the #5 team in the country all they could handle. Their defense was much better than the first match-up early this year at UD Arena. The Rams gave up only 66 points, which is the lowest point total this season for Dayton and their first time scoring under 70. It helped that the Siegel Center was rocking all night. Even with Dayton going up by 9 late in the game, VCU never backed down to the Flyers and let them go on the big run that they seem to do in every game this season. The Siegel Center lived up to the hype of being one of the toughest venues in college basketball for teams to win, even with the loss. Dayton just found a way to win.
It Doesn’t Have to be Pretty
As I mentioned in the bracketology article that came out this week, Dayton is safely in the tournament. Their focus now is to just win games. It does not have to be pretty; it just has to be a win. Dayton went into a place that they haven’t won since 2015 and found a way to win. The Flyers are only focused on keeping their seed projection for the NCAA tournament intact as well as keep on marching toward 18-0. The show goes on.
VCU Tourney Hopes are Slim
Unfortunately for Ram fans, last night was VCU’s last chance to get an at-large birth after the two losses last week. This was the one game that could right the ship. The Rams do visit SLU this weekend, but that is now most likely a Quad 2 road game due to the Billikens losing to UMass. The Rams need to absolutely win that one, but even then it might not matter. There seems to be only two options for VCU to make the tournament now: a win against Dayton in the A10 tournament (and possibly another win after that, then losing in the A10 tournament title game), or win the A10 tournament for the auto-bid.
Dayton will return home to UD Arena for a Saturday 2:00 rematch against Duquesne. VCU will travel to Saint Louis to face a Billikens squad also hungry for a win. That game will be the #FridA10 game of the week!
Side note: Not to toot my own horn, but I came up with #FridA10 and it needs to become a national phenomenon. College football has #MACtion; college basketball needs #FridA10. Let’s make it happen.
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Image courtesy of daytonflyers.com