Dayton downs Hawaii for Maui Invitational title
Posted: Thursday November 27, 2003 12:18AM; Updated: Thursday November 27, 2003 1:09AM
LAHAINA, Hawaii (AP) -- Dayton's seniors left Maui with the bigger trophy this time.
Ramod Marshall, Sean Finn and Keith Waleskowski combined for all but 20 of the Flyers' points and Dayton beat Hawaii 82-72 Wednesday night in the championship game of the Maui Invitational.
The three seniors were freshmen on the Dayton team that finished third in this tournament in 2000. They took over this year and the Flyers are off to a 4-0 start under first-year coach Brian Gregory.
"The first time we were young guys," Marshall said. "This time we were seniors and we had to lead the young guys. We knew the field was open and we had a chance to win."
Waleskowski made it sound like the Flyers were all business.
"We came in this year knowing we were going to have to go out and not get distracted by anything, just come to work," he said. "I think we did a good job of convincing the other guys of not getting distracted by the weather and the beach."
Marshall was the outside threat and the 7-foot Finn and 6-8 Waleskowski took care of things down low as the Flyers rallied from a seven-point deficit with 11:18 to play.
Hawaii (2-2) built its lead on solid defense but Dayton's inside-outside game starting clicking midway through the half.
The Flyers scored on nine consecutive possessions at one point as they broke from a 50-50 tie to go up 68-59 with 3:57 to go. Finn had eight points in the run, two coming on an alley-oop dunk on a pass from Waleskowski. Marshall hit a 3 during the spurt and Waleskowski had a driving dunk that sent the several hundred Dayton fans in the Lahaina Civic Center into a frenzy.
"The three seniors really took the game over in the last 12 minutes," Gregory said. "Hawaii as in a great offensively and we had to do something to get them out of that."
Gregory went to a zone defense and that made the difference.
"I thought we played as good as defense as we could in the first half," Hawaii coach Riley Wallace said. "In the second half we got a little tired and they switched to the zone and that was the difference in the ballgame."
Marshall finished with 27 points, while Finn had 18 and Waleskowski, the tournament MVP, had 17 points and nine rebounds. Dayton shot 62.5 percent in the second half (20-for-32) and 54.4 percent for the game (31-for-57). The Flyers had 11 turnovers in the game, none in the second half.
Michael Kuebler, who matched his career-high with 29 points in the semifinals, had 23 for the Rainbow Warriors and Phil Martin added 14.
The Flyers entered the game with six players averaging in double figures and half that amount was enough Wednesday.
Gregory said the seniors told him when he got the job in April that winning the Maui Invitational was one of their goals.
"This is a big win for the program and it separates these kids from the others and that's important," Gregory said. "When you see the schools on that list who have won the tournament and now Dayton will be on it forever."
Dayton's run in 2000 included wins over Connecticut and Maryland sandwiched around a semifinal loss to Arizona. This year it was wins over Central Michigan, San Diego State and Hawaii and though the list may not have been as impressive as 2000, they were all wins.
"We may have played bigger name teams last time but that got us ready for what to expect this time," Waleskowski said.
Hawaii reached the finals with wins over Santa Clara and Chaminade, the latter a victory over a school located just a mile or so away from its campus on neighboring Oahu.
"We definitely wanted our name up on that wall with the other champions and we're disappointed in that," Kuebler said. "But this was a great experience for us."
In Wednesday's other tournament games, San Diego State beat Chaminade 75-67 for third place, Ohio State downed Villanova 67-66 for fifth and Santa Clara beat Central Michigan 76-62 for seventh.