Game #9-174: Weber State Wildcats at Dayton FlyersNovember 28, 2012 7:00 pm
U. of Dayton Arena
Living in basketball-crazed Dayton, Ohio has some significant perks, not the least of which is a steady stream of hoops to enjoy between sub-Red Line schools Dayton and Wright State. For the most part, Dayton is below the Red Line in name only, which has both benefits and drawbacks. One of my favorite parts of this positioning in the Mid-Majority hierarchy involves the bane of every school around the country: scheduling. Dayton always manages to get some significant home opponents each year, generally fellow mid-majors. For example, this season features Illinois State and Murray State, as well as league opponents Butler and Xavier.
Because of this, I decided to buy a season ticket for the first time in my life. Thanks to a host of circumstances and other obligations, the game against Lillard-less Weber State would be my first of the season at Dayton, and in the state of Ohio as a whole (luckily, my season ticket for the games that had already taken place didn't always go to waste
). I was very excited, mainly because Dayton's national scheduling would allow me to see a Big Sky team for the first time. Knowing that Weber is no slouch and that the Flyers tend to play down to their competition, I figured this would be a more competitive game than the general expectation.
Of course, I was in the minority. Listening to the radio en route to UD Arena, Flyer basketball pundits didn't think the Flyers would have much trouble with, at one point, "Webber" State. Nothing drives me more insane that mispronouncing a school's name or getting their team nickname wrong. In my experience, slights like these rarely matter because the home team trucks the visitor anyway. But the Flyers are no Kentucky, and for better or for worse I yearned for sweet schadenfreude by the time the anthem rolled around.
The most noticeable trend of the game became apparent early on. 6' 10" Wildcat junior Kyle Tresnak, having only scored 12 total points in his team's previous three games, began to get buckets off of impressively agile post moves. Tresnak cut, slashed, and occasionally powered through the dumbfounded Flyer defenders, making it look easy as he became the story of the game. Dayton's interior defense was inconsistent at best, and Tresnak took full advantage.
Not to be outdone by the opposing center, Dayton's Josh Benson turned his offense on and went at Tresnak's own lackluster defense, most notably with a slick layup to open the second half to put the Flyers ahead 27-20. The crowd roared their appreciation, and then leaned back and rested like a lion after a large meal. Generally, this is the point when fans will sit back and enjoy the ride. The lead will only build from here. The Wildcats are finished. Sure, they might threaten late in the game and get back within single digits, but for the most part this contest is over and out.
One of my least favorite sportz clichés is the idea of the "turning point
." Generally, it provides a single event that a talking head can analyze, as opposed to an entire contest. This cuts down on an analyst's workload significantly and provides a media audience with a bite-sized nugget to chew on as the scapegoat for/reason why their team lost/won. Even though I'm about to make a case that a single event was a "turning point" for this game, I'm still not sure I believe it. At any point the Flyers could have started playing better interior D, or being more aware of their surroundings, or whatever. But they didn't. As a result, a clear moment exists when the tide turned for Weber.
Less than a minute into the second half, Benson put the Flyers ahead with a 27-20 layup. On the ensuing possession, Weber's Tresnak stomped down the lane and threw down an ugly, ferocious, big man slam. Unfortunately, there is no YouTube record of this one, so you'll just have to take my word for it when I say it was the most OMG of my #omgdunx
this season. Dayton's Vee Sanford fouled the big man, and Tresnak put the free throw through with ease. The Wildcats' ensuing 13-0 run seemed to surprise the Dayton players almost as much as their fans.
Traditionally, here is where the sportz analysis would end. That was the turning point, and Weber ended up with the victory. Even though that slam could be argued as the catalyst for the win, there was still a great deal of excellent basketball to be played. In fact, Dayton charged back not long after, enjoying a 9-2 run of their own that made the game a dogfight for the remaining minutes.
With 33 seconds to go, the Flyers found themselves down by one with the basketball. Josh Benson, who had scored the last seven Dayton points, was clearly the go-to guy underneath the basket. Perhaps the Flyers goal was to draw the defenders to Benson and then kick out to Dillard or some other player for the quick 3, but the Wildcats never let them get that far. As soon as he was fed the rock, Benson was trapped under the basket. He panicked, desperately looking for somewhere to go or something to do. As his face betrayed his emotion, the Weber defenders closed tighter. Instead of blowing his whistle for the timeout, the official blew his whistle for the three-second call. Two made Weber free throws and an unsuccessful Dillard superhoop later, the Flyers had simply run out of time. Weber celebrated, and the Dayton radio analysts (now armed with the correct pronunciation of their conquering opponents) couldn't believe what they had witnessed. The postgame show was filled with speculation that perhaps the loss could be a turning point for the entire Flyers season. Depending on the direction this year goes, the Weber State game will be breathlessly remembered as the scapegoat or the savior.
WEBER STATE 62, at DAYTON 61
WEBER STATE 2-2 (0-0) -- S. Bamforth 4-9 4-4 15; D. Berry 3-7 1-2 9; J. Bolomboy 3-6 1-3 7; J. Richardson 2-4 2-2 8; K. Tresnak 6-10 4-5 16; G. Wheelwright 1-4 0-0 3; J. Hajek 1-4 0-0 2; F. Otis 1-3 0-0 2; R. Williams 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 21-47 12-16 62.
DAYTON 4-2 (0-0) -- K. Dillard 6-16 4-4 18; D. Oliver 5-10 3-5 13; V. Sanford 3-13 0-0 6; J. Benson 4-8 9-11 17; D. Pierre 1-2 1-2 3; J. Robinson 1-5 0-0 2; A. Gavrilovic 1-3 0-0 2; K. Price 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 21-57 17-22 61.
Three-point goals: WEB 8-17 (S. Bamforth 3-7; J. Richardson 2-2; D. Berry 2-4; G. Wheelwright 1-4), UD 2-8 (K. Dillard 2-5; V. Sanford 0-3); Rebounds: WEB 32 (J. Bolomboy 10), UD 28 (J. Benson 9); Assists: WEB 17 (F. Otis 3), UD 10 (K. Dillard 4); Total Fouls -- WEB 21, UD 16; Fouled Out: WEB-None; UD-None.