Escaping the fowl air of New York, UD went south Friday and breathed new life again with an impressive 89-78 overtime win over Davidson.
DAYTON — After leaving a stink bomb in Fordham’s Rose Hill Gynasium on Tuesday night, the University of Dayton basketball team made a massive and monumental statement Friday night.
The victim was Davidson College.
The Flyers were seven-point underdogs and given only a 38 per cent chance to win on the road by kenpom.com.
After sleep-walking and dozing to a 55-54 loss to lowly Fordham, the Flyers barged into Charlotte, N.C. and put on a basketball clinic.
The battered and bruised Flyers landed a large left hook on Davidson, 89-78 in overtime, scoring the game’s final eight points in the last minute.
And they did it with Jalen Crutcher, Ibi Watson and three freshmen with not enough experience to get their sneakers wet.
The Flyers are missing Dwight Cohill, Rodney Chatman and Chase Johnson, forcing Mustafa Amzil, Zimi Nqwokei and Koby Brea — all freshmen — to log long and meaningful minutes.
Davidson scored the game’s first basket, but Amzil buried a trey and the Flyers never again trailed.
But they could never shake Davidson. The Wildcats were always sniffing at the Flyers’ heels, staying within one, two or three points most of the way.
Jalen Crutcher, as he does time and time and time again, carried the load with a career-best 29 points, Ibi Watson, the other experienced Flyer, flipped in 23. Amzil added 12 and Elijah Weaver, battling cramps most of the second half, provided 11.
For most of this season the Flyers have been hexed and perplexed by turnovers, nearly 17 a game. They had only 10 on this night.
Incredibly, the 10th turnover came with 13 1/2 minutes left in regulation. From there the Flyers guarded the basketball like a valet taking care of a Lamborghini. They played the final 18 1/2 minutes without once turning over the basketball.
It looked as if the Flyers would win it in regulation after Crutcher hit two free throws with 12.8 seconds left, providing UD with a 72-69 lead.
Not so fast, though. Nothing comes easy for this edition of the Flyers. Davidson’s Kellan Grady drilled a game-tying three with with 3.3 seconds left.
Ibi Watson, who missed a three-pointer at the buzzer at Fordham, missed a three-pointer at the buzzer in this one, too.
Retribution and resurrection was his on this night. He drove for the first basket in overtime. Then, after Crutcher made two drives to the basket to give the Flyers a two-point lead, 78-76, Watson followed a Davidson turnover by splashing down a three.
That gave the Flyers a five-point lead, 81-76, with 1:20 to play. Davidson countered with a basket by Carter Collins, but the Flyers made six of seven free throws in the final 25 seconds.
UD made 20 of 24 free throws to only five of nine for Davidson. The Wildcat’s home cooking got burned.
And after a putrid and pathetic 4 for 23 three-point shooting at Fordham, the Flyers made 11 of 24. Crutcher was four for six and Watson was 4 for 8.
Overall, UD made 29 of its 52 shots, a 57 per cent clip.
The Flyers jumped out to a 13-6 start before Davidson drew even at 13. And they led, 24-19, but couldn’t shake the determined Wildcats. Davbidson drew within one at halftime, 32-31.
UD’s biggest lead was eight, 50-42.but Davidson barged back to within two, 55-53 with 9 1/2 minutes left.
The Flyers pushed away again to a 59-53 lead with 7:18 to go. Once again the Wildcats were sniffing UD’s tail lights at 66-65 with 2:20 left. And they stayed within three the rest of the way until Grady hit the game-tying three just before the buzzer.
While Fordham was ranked by NET the 339th team out of 342 schools playing Division I basketball, Davidson was 80th.
After losing to Fordham, UD dropped to 133rd, eighth in the Atlantic 10.
With the upset, the Flyers pushed their record t0 6-3…and the three losses have been by a total of five points. They leveled their A10 record to 2-and-2. Davidson is 6-and-5, also 2-and-2 in the A10,
It was a much happier Anthony Grant on his post-game radio show than the guy who stared down the microphone at Fordham.
“I’m so proud of the guys because I thought they fought very hard,” said the UD coach. “It was a heck of a basketball game and I think for us — we had three games in six or seven days, but we fought hard.
“They earned the victory, they had to fight hard for it,” he added. “To Davidson’s credit, those guys competed really hard, but we made enough plays to win the game.”
It was Crutcher and Watson making big play after big play, with Crutcher playing 44 of the 45 minutes and Watson playing 42 minutes.
“We got great efforts out of a lot of guys,” said Grant. “Pretty much everybody who played contributed to the win. The guys who started, the guys who came off the bench, we got s0mething out of everybody. I was proud of their fortitude, the toughess, great character.
“Thankfully for us, we didn’t have much drama down the stretch,” he added. “We made some free throws and g0t separation.”
When told his Flyers didn’t have a turnover in the final 18 1/2 minutes, Grant said, “That’s great to hear. I hadn’t look at that yet. I thought our guys did a good job of sharing it.”
The Flyers avoided becoming Davidson coach Bob McKillop’s 601st victim after he won his 600th game earlier in the week against Massachusetts.
And the Flyers beat a team with international flavor. The 13-man Davidson roster contained players from South Korea, New Zealand, Denmark, England and Austria.
South Korean Hyunjung Lee, averaging 17 points a game, was held scoreless on 0 for 3 shooting.
Now that the Flyer express is back on track, the team tests itself Wednesday night in UD Arena against Duquesne.