Sunday, January 06, 2002
Sato settles down, then soars
By Neil Schmidt
The Cincinnati Enquirer
DAYTON, Ohio The Dayton games had plenty of buildup for Romain Sato last season. He wanted to show his adopted hometown he had made the right choice in picking Xavier over the Flyers.
Romain Sato celebrates after hitting a jumper.
(Jeff Swinger photo)
| ZOOM |
The Central African Republic native said Saturday he wasn't comfortable with the pressure he put on himself as he shot 3-for-15 combined in the teams' two meetings last season.
In the locker room before Saturday's game, XU coach Thad Matta summoned Sato for a message: I know this is a big game for you. Just relax and be yourself.
Sato was his best self, dominating Dayton and earning game MVP honors with 19 points, 15 rebounds, three assists, two blocks and no turnovers.
I felt more relaxed, and it was great to play well here, Sato said.
His much-touted 38-inch vertical leap was on display. Sato soared to grab rebounds above the rim. He elevated above defenders to pump in two key 3-pointers in the last 8 1/2 minutes. He muscled in for seven offensive rebounds, including a tip-in and a monstrous tip-dunk off a David West miss.
He was flying through the air, UD coach Oliver Purnell said.
Sato also held UD's Brooks Hall to 2-of-10 shooting.
Everybody fed off Romain, junior guard Lionel Chalmers said. He was amazing.
It was Sato's third career double-double and first this season. Last season, he was booed by fans upset he didn't pick UD.
They boo me, and I feel good about it, Sato said. I'm happy about coming to Xavier.
CHALMERS RECOVERS: Chalmers broke out of a slump by scoring 12 of his 14 points in the second half.
He was 0-for-3 in the first half, playing just nine minutes. At that point, he was just 5-of-31 shooting (16.1 percent) over the past four games. But he made three of five shots in the second half with no turnovers, totaling just one turnover on the day.
I wasn't feeling it at first, and I forced a couple of shots, he said. But I learned from it. I took my time and my shot came back around.
X-FILES: XU is 6-1 in Atlantic 10 openers ... UD's leading scorer, Ramod Marshall (13.7 ppg), scored just two points, on a last-minute layup. It was his first game not in double-figure scoring ... UD barely extended its streak of games with at least one made 3-pointer to 381, the nation's fifth-longest. David Morris made two 3s in the final 3:21.
UP NEXT: XU plays host to Fordham (4-7) at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday. The Rams play host to Temple today in their A-10 opener.
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