Kellen Stepler | Features Editor
Jan. 30, 2020
The Duquesne men’s basketball team gave it their best shot, but Dayton proved why they were the No. 7 ranked team in the nation in a 73-69 Flyers win on Wednesday night at PPG Paints Arena.
The Flyers built an eight point lead at halftime, thanks to a buzzer-beating three-pointer by Jalen Crutcher. Crutcher would finish with 18 points for Dayton.
After the intermission, the Flyers would create a 10-4 run and Dayton would lead Duquesne by 19 points with 11 minutes left in the game.
But Duquesne wouldn’t say die just yet. Tavian Dunn-Martin would hit back-to-back three-pointers to spark an 11-4 Duquesne run to pull the Dukes back within eight.
“[Dunn-Martin] gave us really great energy, he really fired us up,” Duquesne forward Marcus Weathers said. “We had to go out fighting. We’ve got a lot of guys with a lot of fight.”
With four minutes left in the game, the Dukes trimmed a 19-point Dayton lead to only four. Keith Dambrot praised his team for its ability to fight back from the deficit.
“They delivered knock-out punches, but we didn’t go down,” Duquesne head coach Keith Dambrot said. “We can play with every team in our league.”
Weathers and teammate Michael Hughes helped lead the Dukes comeback charge in the second half. Hughes scored 13 of his 19 points, and Weathers scored 11 of his 17 points in the second half. Duquesne shot 45.8% from the field, 33.3% from three-point land and went 7-for-13 from the free throw line.
With 33 seconds left in the game, the Dukes make it a one possession game, and the crowd of 7,001 was roaring.
But, standout Dayton sophomore Obi Toppin would head to the foul line and sink both shots to put Dayton up by four points, and that would be too little too late for the Dukes. Toppin would lead all scorers with 22 points, shooting 64% from the field. As a team, the Flyers finished the night shooting 59.2% from the field, 44.4% from beyond the arc and went 7-for-7 from the line.
Dayton coach Anthony Grant was confident when Toppin went to the line, but wasn’t too pleased with his team’s performance overall.
“In my opinion, we’re better than what we played today,” Grant said. “We need to bring our best to every game. I’m glad we made enough plays at the end to get the win,” Grant said. “We made ourselves vulnerable, and some things [we did] were self-inflicted.”
While being the leading scorer, Toppin would lead the Flyers with 10 rebounds and had a big blocked shot to silence some of Duquesne’s momentum.
Toppin also gained respect from the Duquesne team.
“[Toppin] is the catalyst,” Weathers said. “We tried to limit his athleticism plays. Dayton runs their stuff very well.”
Duquesne out-rebounded Dayton 30-25, and the Dukes’ bench outscored Dayton’s bench 37-9.
Both the Flyers and Dukes would connect for eight three-pointers each, and the Dukes would score 36 points in the paint, whereas the Flyers would score 38 points in the paint.
“We showed what we’re capable of, but we’re too inconsistent,” Dambrot said.
Additionally, Dambrot thought that if they would’ve played UMass before they played Rhode Island, they probably would have beaten the Minutemen.
“The season’s long, some nights you don’t have it,” Dambrot said.
The loss adds to Duquesne’s three game Atlantic 10 losing streak, and they fall to a record of 15-5, and 5-3 in the A-10.
They will look to get back on the winning track Sunday, where they will play host to La Salle in another Atlantic 10 matchup.
Currently, La Salle is 12th in the A-10, and have lost eight of their last 10 games. Sunday’s contest will tip off at 2 p.m. The Explorers are led by 6’8 sophomore Ed Croswell, who has had five double-double games so far this season.
With the win, Dayton improves 8-0 in the A-10, and 19-2 overall. The Flyers will now travel to the Bronx, New York to play 13th place Fordham.