Toppin's 31 lead No. 20 Dayton over North Florida 77-59
By JOE KAY AP Sports Writer
DAYTON, Ohio (AP) — Obi Toppin took one shot from beyond the arc and missed it. Dayton’s slammin’ forward didn’t attempt another.
The way he and the Flyers were getting to the basket, there was no need.
Toppin scored a career-high 31 points, most of them off dunks and layups, as No. 20 Dayton used its front-line advantage and pulled away from North Florida 77-59 on Monday night.
Once the Flyers (11-2) started pushing the pace and attacking the basket, there was no slowing them.
“We knew going into the game there was going to be a lot in transition, and we did well with that,” Toppin said.
Dayton took full advantage of its height mismatch and used its quickness to force 21 turnovers that set up transition dunks. Dayton had a 52-18 advantage in points in the paint.
“That’s just something we do,” said Trey Landers, who had 15 points and three assists. “We’ve got a lot of guys that can go get the ball — not like Obi, though.”
Toppin led the way, going 15 of 24 from the field. He also had a team-high eight rebounds. Rodney Chatman had nine assists, repeatedly finding Toppin free underneath.
The 6-foot-9 forward had a frustrating time early, with a couple of layups and a dunk attempt getting blocked. He complained to the referees that he was getting fouled, and coach Anthony Grant told him to stay calm and ignore the calls.
“I was getting fouled, they just weren’t calling it,” Toppin said. “To play at the next level, you’ve got to play through the calls. It can’t get to your head.”
Once he calmed down, the Ospreys couldn’t slow him down. Toppin had six of his eight dunks in the second half.
“From that point forward, he was able to really dominate the game,” Grant said. “It was nice to see him put his stamp on the game.”
Point guard Jalen Crutcher returned after missing one game with a concussion and had 11 points with a pair of assists.
North Florida (7-8) leads the nation in 3-pointers made, but couldn’t make enough to keep it close. The Ospreys went 12 of 28 from beyond the arc. Carter Hendricksen led with 12 points.
Aware of North Florida’s preference to shoot away, the Flyers extended their defense at the outset and gave up layups. The Ospreys pulled ahead 12-8 before Dayton regrouped out of a timeout.
A full-court press forced three quick turnovers and a 12-0 spurt that put Dayton ahead to stay. Crutcher had a 3 and a three-point play to spark the spurt.
Turnovers were the difference as Dayton pulled away, getting nine steals in the first half. The Flyers stretched the lead to 18 as Toppin had back-to-back baskets, the second off an offensive rebound.
The Flyers had three dunks within a 33-second span — two of them by Toppin — while pushing the lead to 22 points in the second half.
North Florida: It was the Ospreys’ third game against a ranked team this season. They also lost at No. 6 Florida 74-59 and at No. 19 Florida State 98-81.
Dayton: Ibi Watson started the last game with Crutcher out and had a career-high 30 points in an 81-53 win over Grambling, showing the Flyers’ depth. He came off the bench Monday and hit a 3 that put Dayton up 36-22 in the first half. Watson finished with seven points.
The Flyers came into the game leading the nation in field goal shooting at 53.4% and assists at 19.6 per game. They shot 50 percent and had 19 assists.
Dayton reserve Chase Johnson missed his fifth straight game. The school said pregame that the sophomore forward is recovering from post-concussive stress syndrome.
LONG AND WINDING ROAD
North Florida played the fifth of seven straight road games. The Ospreys are in a stretch of one home game in a span of 12.
It was the Ospreys’ fourth visit to University of Dayton Arena. In addition to losing three times to the Flyers, they lost to Robert Morris in the 2015 First Four in Dayton.
North Florida: Begins Atlantic Sun play at Kennesaw State on Thursday.
Dayton: Opens Atlantic 10 play at La Salle on Thursday.
More AP college basketball: https://apnews.com/Collegebasketball and https://twitter.com/AP_Top 25