Dayton, Ohio — Ibi Watson’s first collegiate start ended with a pair of pressure-packed free throws and a career high in points.
Watson scored 30 points and No. 18 Dayton recovered from its second loss of the season by beating Grambling State, 81-53, on Monday night.
The Flyers (10-2) were missing point guard Jalen Crutcher, who fell and hit his head late in a 78-76 overtime loss to Colorado on Saturday. He was having concussion symptoms, so Dayton shuffled its guard rotation.
Watson, who transferred from Michigan, made an immediate impact after being introduced as a starter for the first time.
“It was definitely special to be able to go out there and start the game with your brothers,” the junior said.
Watson had 15 points in the opening half, three shy of his career high. He scored 10 during a 17-2 run that put the Flyers ahead.
“It shows we have a lot of depth,” Watson said. “We have a lot of guys who can score. Without Jalen, we knew we had to step up.”
The Tigers (6-7) cut a 20-point deficit to 52-42 midway through the second half before Rodney Chatman hit a pair of 3-pointers and Watson had a four-point play that put the Flyers back in control. Chatman added 17 points.
Watson went 8 of 12 from the field, including 4 of 5 from beyond the arc, and made all of his 10 free throws. He became the first Flyer to score 30 points since Josh Cunningham had 32 against Rhode Island on Jan. 20, 2018.
“I think his teammates understood he had the hot hand and they were able to take advantage of it,” coach Anthony Grant said.
Watson got chance to reach the mark when he was fouled with 2:25 to go and went to the line for a pair of free throws.
“Everybody was telling me I needed to make both of them for 30,” Watson said. “There was more pressure on those last two.”
Kelton Edwards had 13 points for Grambling State, which went only 2 of 19 from beyond the arc.
The Tigers suffered an early setback when 7-foot-1 center Travon Bunch picked up three fouls — including a technical — in the first 10 minutes. He and Dayton’s Ryan Mikesell got tangled up while going for a rebound and had to be separated by the officials. A few seconds later, Bunch got a technical for something he said.
Bunch finished with two points and one rebound in 11 minutes.
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No. 21 Washington 72, Hawaii 61: In Honolulu, Isaiah Stewart had 26 points and 13 rebounds to lead Washington over Hawaii in the Diamond Head Classic semifinals.
Quade Green added 11 points and seven assists for the Huskies (10-2), who will play Houston for the tournament title on Wednesday. Jaden McDaniels had nine points and 13 rebounds, and Nahziah Carter chipped in with 10 points.
Stewart made 13 of 21 shots from the field. He scored 16 points in the first half and finished with his fourth straight double-double.
Hawaii got within six on Zigmars Raimo’s basket in transition with 5:28 to play, but went scoreless for more than three minutes while the Huskies reeled off an eight-point run to stretch their lead to 59-45 with 2:04 remaining.
Justin Webster had 16 points and Raimo added 15 points with 15 rebounds to lead the Rainbow Warriors (8-4), who shot a season-low 28 percent.