CHAMPAIGN, Ill. -- Take a sip of your pop, turn your head to talk someone or even sneeze, and it was likely you missed one of Dayton’s possessions during the opening half against Illinois on Wednesday.
They are nicknamed the Flyers, but it’s also what they do.
The shot clock is inconsequential to Dayton. Most of its possessions last no more than 15 seconds. The Flyers get the ball, push it and quickly get to the rim, put up a 3-pointer or turn the ball over (they had nine turnovers in the opening half). It’s bam-bam-bam, and the other team has the ball.
In the opening half, it worked to perfection as Dayton led 38-25 at halftime.
Just seconds after Illinois guard D.J. Richardson had given his team a 3-0 lead with a long-range shot, Dayton guard Marcus Johnson was on the other end dropping in a layup. On Dayton’s next possession, Johnson quickly knocked down a 3-pointer. Dayton’s London Warren displayed his track speed next and put Dayton ahead 7-3 with another fastbreak layup.
When Dayton built its lead to 21-9, Illinois coach Bruce Weber spent half his time in the timeout huddle shaking his head in disbelief.
“We got to start playing basketball now,” Weber said to his team. “They are playing at a high level, and we are not.”
Weber’s pep talk did nothing as Dayton continued to score with ease, and the Illini struggled to get their offense going. At one point, the Flyers led 29-13.
Local high school products Luke Fabrizius and Mickey Perry played a part in Dayton’s success in the first half. Fabrizius, a Hersey graduate, knocked down three 3-pointers, and Perry, a Proviso East grad, hit one 3-pointer.
Scott Powers covers high school and college sports for ESPNChicago.com and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.