Toppin your mind and, in the end, nearly Toppin the bracket.
Dayton came oh-so-close to taking down No. 4 Kansas, losing 90-84 in overtime of the 2019 Maui Invitational title game. Even without the win, the Flyers capped off a marquee trip into the Pacific, which saw them blow out Georgia and Virginia Tech and also saw sophomore Obi Toppin emerge as a household name.
It was a frantic final few minutes of the title game.
A Toppin tip-in brought Dayton within 71-70 with just under a minute left in regulation. After two Devon Dotson free throws, Jalen Crutcher drilled a game-tying step-back three with 1.1 seconds left to force the extra period after a disjointed possession. Behold the madness:
Dayton ultimately wasn’t able to overcome Kansas in overtime, as Udoka Azubuike (29 points) caught fire from the free throw line, and Dotson (31 points) finished off a career night.
It was the Flyers depth and outside shooting that propelled them out of the gate. With Toppin quiet for much of the first half, Dayton kept pace with Kansas by knocking down eight three pointers, including three from Michigan transfer Ibi Watson (11 first half points).
But Toppin then busted out in the final six minutes of the first period, which included this swag-dripping three right in front of the Kansas bench.
OBI TOPPIN HAD HIS BACK TO THE RIM AND STARED DOWN KU’S BENCH BEFORE THE BALL WENT IN. pic.twitter.com/DJ4yLu8PDb— Matt Norlander (@MattNorlander) November 27, 2019
Dayton took a 37-36 lead into the break, and the second half was a back and forth affair, as Udoka Azubuike and the Jayhawks’ zone caused the Flyers issues.
A Crutcher three (12 points on the game) with just under nine minutes left gave the Flyers a 60-58 lead, and he followed it up on the next possession with another three to plant momentum firmly in Dayton’s corner. The next points for either team would come a few possessions later, with Watson drilling another three in the Flyers’ long-range assault.
Dotson helped get the Jayhawks back into the game with several transition baskets. A Marcus Garrett layup tied the game at 66-66 right before the under-four minute media timeout.
On the game Dayton went 16-33 from three, with seven different players hitting an outside shot. Ryan Mikesell was fantastic on offense with a team-high 19 points, consistently putting pressure on the Jayhawks with drives to the basket. Toppin finished with 18 points and nine rebounds while having to body Azubuike much of the game.
The Flyers are off until hosting Houston Baptist on Dec. 3 in what will likely be a more raucous UD Arena than usual. By then Anthony Grant’s team will surely find themselves in the AP Poll and — more importantly, of course — perhaps atop the Other Top 25.