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Published: Wednesday, January 09, 2019 @ 11:38 PM
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Anthony Grant didn't react when Obi Toppin threw down one of the greatest dunks in UD Arena history, but he pumped his fist in excitement with the rest of the Dayton Flyers when Jordan Davis hit a go-ahead 3-pointer Wednesday at George Washington.
Davis scored 20 of his 25 points in the second half to lead Dayton to a 72-66 victory at the Charles E. Smith Center. That 3-pointer at the 9:50 mark of the second half completed a 22-point comeback for the Flyers, who sealed their first victory at GW since 2009 with four free throws by Jalen Crutcher and Trey Landers in the final 25 seconds.
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It was the type of victory that excites even hard-to-impress head coaches. Of course, Grant knows as well as anyone how hard it is to win on the road in the Atlantic 10 Conference. This was his team's first true road win in 365 days.
"It was great to see the fight in us," Grant said. "Give GW credit. They came out and punched us in the mouth right away and made a lot of shots."
Here are five takeaways from Dayton's fifth straight victory:
1. Early deficit: Two years after making their first nine shots en route to 16-1 and 29-8 leads against Dayton in an 87-81 victory, the Colonials made their first 10 shots in this game. They led 28-9 before missing their first shot at the 11:58 mark and stretched the lead to as many as 22 points at 33-11 at the 10:21 mark.
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George Washington, which ranks 264th in the country in 3-point shooting percentage (31.6), made its first six 3-pointers. It made 4 of 21 the rest of the way. They scored 33 points in the first 11 minutes and 33 points in the last 29 minutes.
"They went 6-for-6 with guys who hadn't been great at shooting the ball," Grant said. "It seemed like every shot they took for a while went in. I didn't think our energy was where it need to be at the start of the game, and they took advantage of that."
2. Freshman contributions: A 3-pointer by freshman Frankie Policelli at the 9:58 mark, one possession after the Colonials took their biggest lead, started Dayton's comeback. That was his only basket, but Dayton's other freshman, Dwayne Cohill, scored seven points in the first half.
Policelli and Cohill had eight of Dayton's first 14 points, and though neither played in the second half, Grant remembered their efforts after the game.
"Credit our young guys," Grant said. "Specifically, Dwayne and Frankie came in and gave us some really valuable minutes. It was great to see them play with that type of energy and focus and fight, not only offensively but on the defensive end. I thought after about the 10-minute mark, we settled in and started to get some stops."
3. Shooting star: Davis reached his career high in scoring. He made 9 of 15 field goals and 7 of 11 3-pointers, including 6 of 9 in the second half. He became the sixth player in school history to make seven or more 3-pointers in a game. Norm Grevey, who twice made seven 3-pointers, holds the school record with nine.
"After the first shot, I felt like I had a rhythm, so I just kept shooting," Davis said. "My teammates told me to keep shooting."
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Davis missed all four of his 3-point attempts in the A-10 opener against Richmond and was shooting 25.4 percent from long range after shooting 39.4 percent as a freshman.
Most of the team has struggled as well. The Flyers entered the game ranked 12th out of 14 teams, one spot behind GW, in the A-10 in 3-point percentage (30.9). Dayton made 10 of 23 3-pointers (43.5 percent) in this game.
"It was great to see, and we needed it," Grant said. "Obviously, there's been a lot of questions about our shooting after the last game when we were 3 of 20, and JD hasn't been able to be as consistent as he wants to be or as we want him to be, but tonight he shot the ball with great confidence, and like any shooter, once you see the ball go in a couple times, it opens up for you. We needed every one of them tonight. Not a better time for us to rediscover what he's capable of."
4. Post defense: George Washington refused to let Dayton's top scorer, Josh Cunningham, beat it, swarming him with defenders every time he touched the ball. He didn't attempt a shot in the first half and got only one shot in the second half, though he found his way to the free-throw line six times, making 6 of 12.
"I thought he did a good job of handling it," Grant said. "I thought he moved the ball. He got himself to the free-throw line. He did what you need to do when teams put that much attention on you."
5. Big picture: Dayton joined Davidson, Virginia Commonwealth and Saint Louis atop the A-10 with a 2-0 start. The Flyers won on the road for the first time since Jan. 9, 2018, at Richmond.
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The Flyers beat a team picked to finish 13th out of 14 teams in the conference but also a team that had beaten Dayton four straight times at the Smith Center.