Thursday, February 20, 2003

Dayton 70, Richmond 63

The Associated Press

RICHMOND, Va. - Dayton's players heard the crowd roaring, imploring Richmond to make one more defensive stop and hit one more big basket.

And then they heard the groans, the ones that came after the Flyers' Brooks Hall found Keith Waleskowski alone behind the defense and fed him for a two-handed dunk with 33.5 seconds to go.

That stopped Richmond, and No. 25 Dayton went on to a 70-63 victory Wednesday night. It was their 12th win in 13 games.

"I was wide open, just camping behind everyone," Waleskowski said of the play, which stopped a 6-0 Spiders run and gave Dayton a 66-63 lead.

"We never thought the game was out of our hands," Waleskowski said. "The whole game it was our game and they went on a little run and we just knew we had to do something to quiet them down.

"It's not necessarily the crowd we worry about, it's them getting hot, and we let them get hot."

After the dunk, the Spiders didn't score again.

The second half was a testament to Dayton's balance. D.J. Stelly scored eight points during an early 12-4 run to give the Flyers some breathing room, and Waleskowski and Ramod Marshall came through late.

Marshall scored twice in the last four minutes, each time responding to a score that brought the scrappy Spiders close to a one-possession game.

The first came with four minutes left and the Flyers ahead 59-55, and the second was on a baseline floater with 2:57 to go that made it 64-57.

"I just wanted to get to the basket and either draw the defense or, if I had an open shot, take it, and it just opened up for me," Marshall said of the shot, lofted as he darted toward the basket from the left side.

But the Spiders weren't finished, getting two 3-pointers from Mike Skrocki 53 seconds apart to get closer than they had been all night.

After a timeout with 46 seconds left, Dayton inbounded the ball into a halfcourt trapping defense, but the Flyers worked the ball to Hall, and he found Waleskowski for the dunk that killed the home team's momentum.

"Great late-game execution," Dayton coach Oliver Purnell said.

Dayton (19-4, 11-1 Atlantic-10) clinched a first-round bye in the conference tournament, and earned a welcome confidence boost before returning home to take on No. 14 Xavier on Saturday. The Musketeers gave the Flyers their last loss, 85-77 on Feb. 8 in Cincinnati.

"It's always good for us to come and get a tough road win," said Waleskowski, who had 13 points and 13 rebounds. "With that said, now we have a rivalry game with Xavier and we have to get them back."

The loss was Richmond's fifth in a row, turning a season that once looked so promising into a study in poor shooting.

The Spiders shot just 30.2 percent and stayed in the game only because they had 22 offensive rebounds, 13 assists and just seven turnovers.

Still, coach Jerry Wainwright said, "It's very difficult to be in a game when you shoot 30 percent, especially against a team in the top 25."

Coming into the game, Richmond hadn't scored more than 55 points in any of its four consecutive losses, shooting just 32.7 percent in that span.

Skrocki did his best to change that, going 8-of-18 overall and hitting five of nine 3-pointers. He scored 14 of his 22 points in the second half. Eric Zwayer added 13 points, all after halftime, and nine rebounds.

But the rest of the Spiders (12-11, 6-6) managed seven field goals, including 2-for-12 by point guard Jeff Myers and 1-for-8 by Jamaal Scott.

Stelly led Dayton with 15 points, Marshall had 14 and Sean Finn 12.

The first half also marked the end of a streak of 18 consecutive field goals over 31/2 games for Finn. He made his first two shots from in close, but his streak end on a failed alley-oop.

DAYTON (19-4)-Hall 3-6 2-2 8, Waleskowski 5-7 3-4 13, Finn 6-8 0-2 12, Marshall 5-12 2-2 14, Jones 3-6 1-1 8, Stelly 5-11 3-4 15, Green 0-2 0-0 0, Williams 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 27-52 11-15 70.

RICHMOND (12-11)-Scott 1-8 7-8 9, Skrocki 8-18 1-2 22, Zwayer 4-8 5-6 13, Dobbins 1-6 0-0 2, Myers 2-12 2-2 8, Mayes 0-2 0-0 0, O'Malley 1-3 2-2 5, Bucknor 0-1 0-0 0, Collins 1-3 0-0 2, Steenberge 1-2 0-0 2. Totals 19-63 17-20 63.

Halftime-Dayton 32-24. 3-Point goals-Dayton 5-16 (Marshall 2-5, Stelly 2-6, Jones 1-2, Hall 0-3), Richmond 8-23 (Skrocki 5-9, Myers 2-9, O'Malley 1-1, Scott 0-2, Mayes 0-2). Fouled out-Finn. Rebounds-Dayton 34 (Waleskowski 13), Richmond 41 (Zwayer 9). Assists-Dayton 17 (Jones 7), Richmond 13 (Dobbins 4). Total fouls-Dayton 18, Richmond 16. A-4,129.

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