Heading into Dayton's showdown with the UMass Minutemen, I think it is fair to say that no one really knew what to expect from the Flyers. On the one hand, Dayton had played at an extremely high level for their past four games, pulling out 3 victories and losing a very tight game down in Cincy at the Cintas Center, where they have not won since 1981. But on the other hand, UMass was the type of rangy, athletic team that could give Dayton absolute fits. Also, in past years, when big games with much on the line came around, Dayton had a tendency to not always show up. But hopefully, in the new Archie Miller era, that would change.
The "atomosphere" inside UD Arena was electric all game long. Dayton had just been voted the "Best Under-The-Radar Atmosphere in College Basketball" (although the towels the student section were given misspelled "atmosphere") and it sure showed. The Red Scare student section had organized a large pre-game party in the Student Neighborhood (or for the Daytonians reading this, Ghetto) and CBS Sports was filming a feature on the fans and student section to air during the Final Four.
Once the game started, Raphael Putney drained a three for UMass and the original electricity died momentarily. But not 20 seconds later, Chris Johnson answered with a three of his own and continued until he single-handedly put Dayton up 8-3 and from that pint Dayton was in control. Both teams played a bit disjointedly and somewhat sloppily, which led to a fairly low-scoring half, Dayton going into the half up 28-18.
The second half would tell two very different stories. Dayton got the lead up to fifteen, but then allowed the MInutemen to run off nine straight points, leading to some anxious moments in the Dayton Decibel Dungeon. That anxiety was wiped away immediately as Dayton would take six straight points and only allow one field goal in the final 13 and a half minutes and end up with a 33 point stomping on national television.
Still no one knows how Dayton will finish their season. There could be the usual late-season blow-up that we are all accustomed to, or Kid Yuma could pull the whole team together and string together an amazing run in the A14 Tournament and find our way into the four-letter tournament, Either way, you'd be hard-pressed to find a team that is as exciting at the end of the season every single year. At some point, it'll come to an end. At some point, we'll know where Dayton will end up. I'm just enjoying the ride while it lasts, but I'd be lying if I said I wasn't hoping it'll last as long as possible.
at DAYTON 76, MASSACHUSETTS 43 02/25/2012
MASSACHUSETTS 19-9 (8-6) -- J. Morgan 1-9 0-0 2; T. Vinson 3-7 2-4 8; M. Esho 3-8 4-6 10; C. Williams 2-12 5-6 11; F. Riley 2-5 0-0 5; S. Carter 0-3 1-5 1; R. Putney 1-3 0-0 3; J. Farrell 1-5 1-1 3; M. Hill 0-0 0-0 0; A. McCarthy 0-0 0-2 0. Totals 13-52 13-24 43. DAYTON 18-10 (8-6) -- C. Johnson 6-11 4-4 20; K. Dillard 3-8 8-10 14; P. Williams 1-8 3-4 5; D. Oliver 3-8 3-3 10; J. Parker 4-10 0-0 10; M. Kavanaugh 1-3 0-2 2; A. Gavrilovic 2-3 0-2 4; L. Fabrizius 4-6 0-0 11; R. Hill 0-0 0-0 0; M. Asmus 0-0 0-0 0; B. Vonderhaar 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 24-57 18-25 76.
Three-point goals: MASS 4-17 (J. Farrell 0-1; R. Putney 1-3; F. Riley 1-3; T. Vinson 0-1; C. Williams 2-5; J. Morgan 0-4), UD 10-29 (P. Williams 0-4; J. Parker 2-6; C. Johnson 4-9; L. Fabrizius 3-5; K. Dillard 0-2; D. Oliver 1-3); Rebounds: MASS 35 (M. Esho 9), UD 45 (C. Johnson 11); Assists: MASS 7 (C. Williams 3), UD 17 (K. Dillard 7); Total Fouls -- MASS 20, UD 21; Fouled Out: MASS-C. Williams; UD-None.