Friday, March 20, 2009
Dayton's 'Superman' carries Flyers past WVU
MINNEAPOLIS -- Lavaller Rodgers waits for the whistle, and when Dayton players step to the foul line, she knows it's her cue.
"Everybody gets quiet," said Rodgers' son Mickey Perry, a junior guard for the Flyers. "And then she yells."
And despite a large crowd in the cavernous Metrodome, Dayton star forward Chris Wright heard Rodgers during Friday's first-round matchup against West Virginia.
"She always says she's yelling, but I never hear her," Wright said. "And I guess the place was so big, it draws [sound]. I just heard, 'Put it in, Superman!'"
Wright might as well have worn an S on his red jersey after lifting Dayton to its first NCAA tournament win in 19 years. After a broken ankle shortened his freshman season -- and likely kept Dayton from the 2008 tournament -- Wright sparkled in the spotlight, with 27 points and 10 rebounds.
The 6-foot-8, 226-pound sophomore forward played most of the game above the rim, throwing down several electrifying dunks, including one out of a timeout and another after Perry blocked Darryl Bryant (21 points) with 3:30 left.
"She's been calling him Superman since I got here, the way he jumps around and all that," Perry said. "When I was able to get that block on [Bryant], I thought he was going to jump out the building."
Wright and senior forward Charles Little (18 points) led a dominant Dayton effort against the Mountaineers, who never led and never looked in sync. Alex Ruoff's splendid career ended on a very sour note, as he missed seven of his first nine shots and sat 11 minutes in the second half after picking up his fourth foul with 18:12 left.
West Virginia coach Bob Huggins dropped many more F-bombs than his team dropped buckets against Dayton.
So much for the mighty Big East.
Little said an opponent's conference affiliation doesn't make much difference to Dayton, noting that the Flyers had gone 4-1 in their past five games against Big East teams.
"Correction: 5-1," added guard Marcus Johnson.