Bruce Thornton, Jamison Battle and Roddy Gayle Jr. Highlight Strong Offensive Outing for Ohio State in 78-70 Exhibition Win Over Dayton

By Andy Anders on October 22, 2023 at 8:02 pm
Bruce Thornton vs. Dayton
Clare Grant/The Columbus Dispatch / USA TODAY NETWORK

It may have been an exhibition, but it was impossible to tell with the atmosphere that permeated University of Dayton Arena on Sunday.

A sold-out crowd of more than 13,000 packed in to watch Ohio State take on Dayton in what became a tightly contested scrimmage.

Team 1 2 FINAL
OHIO STATE 42 36 78
DAYTON 39 31 70

Ohio State gained some separation in the second half against Dayton to come away with a 78-70 victory on the road. The Buckeyes flashed fantastic offensive efficiency, shooting 55 percent from the field and 44 percent from 3.

Bruce Thornton collected 21 points on 7-of-9 shooting for the Buckeyes. Jamison Battle proved just as proficient against the Flyers, shooting 6-for-7 en route to a 15-point evening.

Roddy Gayle Jr. followed with another 12 points as the trio of he, Thornton and Battle combined for 48 of OSU’s 78 points.

First half

Dayton got off to a fast start, holding Ohio State to 0-for-4 shooting and sinking a pair of threes to lurch out to a 6-0 lead. It didn’t take long for the Buckeyes to take the proverbial lid off the basket, however.

Trailing 11-5, Jamison Battle dribbled his way into a clean shot from the baseline. Felix Okpara followed with a pretty left-handed hook shot over two defenders, then Dale Bonner touched nothing but net on a shot from left corner. Thornton did the same on another attempt from distance, this time on the right wing, capping a 10-0 Ohio State run that put the team ahead 15-11 with 13:45 to play in the first half.

Perimeter shooting stood out as a storyline for both teams in the first half. The Buckeyes and Flyers shot a combined 12-for-26 (46.2 percent) from downtown, with Dayton guard Enoch Cheeks going a blistering 5-for-5 from outside. 

After the Flyers closed the Buckeyes’ 10-0 run, Thornton sank another 3 of his own and followed it up with a smooth baseline jumper to make it eight straight points he scored for Ohio State and seven consecutive makes for OSU as a team.

Dayton stayed right in the thick of things, however, getting 17 points from Cheeks and 10 from star forward DaRan Holmes II in the opening half. After an exchange of buckets from Ohio State freshman Scotty Middleton and Holmes in the last 30 seconds of that half, the scarlet and gray entered intermission with a 42-39 lead.

The Buckeyes shot a balmy 60 percent in the first 20 minutes, but a 17-10 rebounding advantage helped the Flyers keep pace.

Second half

78 POINTS 70
27-49 (55.1%) FGM-FGA (PCT.) 24-62 (38.7%)
8-18 (44.4%) 3PM-3PA (PCT.) 12-32 (37.5%)
16-22 (72.7%) FTM-FTA (PCT.) 10-14 (71.4%)

Thornton again greased the wheels of Ohio State’s offense in the second half, scoring five consecutive points to close an early 8-2 run that put the Buckeyes ahead 52-43. Dayton generated a couple of turnovers with a full-court press and quickly responded with a 9-0 run of its own.

By the time Gayle calmed the storm with a triple, the Buckeyes led just 55-52 with 12:06 to play.

Then it was Thornton once again who gained some separation for Ohio State. He scored six consecutive points this time, combining with a pair of free throws from Okpara to put OSU up 63-55 with 9:31 remaining.

Dayton never pulled back within one score. Battle and Middleton strung jumpers together to up Ohio State's lead to nine with less than six minutes left, then with just 4:08 left in the contest, a 3-pointer from Battle push the lead out to double digits at 74-63.

Kalen Etzler logged some minutes in the early stretches of the period, the 10th player to see the court for Ohio State. Holtmann stated earlier in the week that the exhibition would have a "spring game" feel in football terms, and the Buckeyes did their fair share of lineup experimentation throughout the contest, with 11 Buckeyes playing in total.

What’s Next?

Ohio State gets 15 days to review film, make tweaks and prepare for its season opener. It will play a “secret scrimmage” against Clemson next weekend in the meantime. The Buckeyes open their season against Oakland on Nov. 6 at 7 p.m. in Value City Arena.

Game Notes

  • With the charitable cause of Sunday’s exhibition game being adolescent and young adult mental health awareness and resources, there were many helpful video presentations and public service announcements during breaks at the contest. Players and coaches from both Ohio State and Dayton were featured alongside celebrities such as actor Terry Crews in open discussions about mental health broadcast on the arena’s jumbotron.
  • The Buckeyes ran with a starting lineup of Thornton, Gayle, Evan Mahaffey, Battle and Okpara.
  • After 11 combined fouls were called in the first 13 minutes of game time (nine of them on Dayton), the Flyers’ public address announcer came over the speakers to announce that Holtmann and Grant had agreed that players wouldn’t be able to foul out for the game.
  • Dayton crashed the offensive glass hard against the Buckeyes, who suffered a 14-5 deficit in offensive rebounding and a 17-11 disadvantage in second-chance points.
  • Ohio State had a negative assist-to-turnover ratio against the Flyers as much of its offense came in isolation, recording just 12 assists against 16 turnovers.
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