It was an uncharacteristically dismal offensive performance from both teams today in the fifth-place game of the Wooden Legacy. Nothing about today’s game was pretty. The refereeing was inconsistent (although it favored your Flyers, particularly during crunch time), there was no flow and neither team could find enough of a groove to distance themselves from their opponent.
In the end, the Cagers were triumphant, the benefactors of a few questionable whistles and some timely buckets. UD heads back to the Buckeye State with a fifth-place banner and memories that will be forgotten by the time the plane touches down in Ohio. Dayton moves to 4-2 on the season and comes out of California physically unscathed.
Which brings us to the most important result of today’s game against New Mexico: Charles Cooke’s healthy, vigorous even, groin. Cooke went down in a heap after doing an unintended split that I’ve only seen lithe strippers pull off. The immediate thought was harakiri, but I decided to wait until the second half before I took the ceremonial sword from its place above my mantle.
Cooke came out under his own recognizance for the second frame, rode the stationary bike to get his groin nice and warm and checked into the game a few minutes later. Order was restored to what has become a rather helter-skelter season.
Cooke, along with Scooch and Kyle Davis, paced the Flyers with a team-high 12 points. Although the senior wing was off his game from the perimeter, he made plays down the stretch that proved to be vital. The man with the golden groin also led the team with five assists and six rebounds. KD broke out of his funk against Portland and he stayed aggressive, getting up eight shots and snagging three steals against the Lobos.
Dayton didn’t let their weaknesses defeat them tonight. The Flyers actually out-rebounded New Mexico on both the defensive and offensive boards, a sentence I never thought I would type this season. We knew coming into the contest that Craig Neal’s squad would be lackadaisical defending the three-point line and they attacked that facet of the game with expected indifference. Dayton got up 22 three-pointers, yet couldn’t convert enough to make this area of the game a difference-maker. UD shot 27% from behind the arc, which is usually an indicator that points towards a loss.
If you had to point to an area the game turned on, it would be turnovers. UD outscored New Mexico 25-7 in points off turnovers, a gaudy 18 point edge. The refs were letting the boys play and Dayton capitalized on it.
UD heads back home and will take on Winthrop in the Sweater Centre on Saturday afternoon. Bring the LOWD.