No one on the men’s basketball team had to read the newspaper after Saturday’s double-digit loss to George Washington. They knew it was a letdown. So they turned their attention to last night’s game against Dayton and bounced back with a 78-70 win.
“A lot of the guys know they didn’t play too good against GW,” junior guard Mardy Collins said. “They wanted to come back and redeem themselves.”
Sophomore guard Dustin Salisbery sparked the redemption with a career-high 27 points. Salisbery started for the first time since recovering from the flu and led four Owls in double figures. He shot a blistering 9-for-11 from the field.
“It just felt like shots were falling,” Salisbery said. “So I just kept shooting.”
The win put the Owls (11-9, 7-2) back on course for the NCAA Tournament, for the moment. They still trail first-place Saint Joseph’s by a game in the Atlantic Ten Conference East Division. The two teams face off at the Palestra on Saturday.
Last night, the Owls leapt out to an early lead and kept pouring it on as the first half progressed. They shot .520 from the field and took 18 foul shots in the half.
The Flyers crawled slowly back into the game in the second half but could not mount a substantial scoring run. With 14:41 remaining, the Owls led by 22 points. They were outscored, 38-24, for the rest of the game. The Owls maintained a safe lead from the foul line, where they attempted 40 free throws in the game.
Despite the win, coach John Chaney said he was upset with the effort of some of the players, particularly that of Collins and Salisbery. Chaney said illness was no excuse for Salisbery, who seemed to be better, or Collins, who looked sluggish in scoring a season-low seven points.
“I thought [Collins] was just out of it,” Chaney said. “I thought he found himself in a situation where I was arguing with him that you don’t need to score to run a team.”
“You can’t make any excuses about being sick now,” he added. “You can’t make any excuses at all.”
Junior Antywane Robinson and freshman Mark Tyndale scored 15 points each. Sophomore center Wayne Marshall had 10 points and nine rebounds, and shot 8-for-10 from the foul line.
It was the fifth time this season the Owls have had four scorers in double figures.
“I know there are a lot of guys on this team who can score,” said Collins, who hauled in seven rebounds. “It’s just a matter of moving the ball. If we move the ball and play as a team, we can have the whole starting five in double figures every night.”
The Flyers (13-8, 6-4) were not so fortunate. Dayton’s starting five scored a combined 18 points. Senior Mark Jones, the only returning starter from last season’s 24-win team, led all starters with seven points. Freshman guard Trent Meacham led the Flyers with 17 points.
Benjamin Watanabe can be reached at email@example.com.