A season that a week ago looked as though it could and would run deep into March came to an unceremonious end here on Friday afternoon where West Virginia got out-toughed, out-hustled and out-played against upstart Dayton. West Virginia - Dayton
One of the few bright spots for the Mountaineers, though, was the play of freshman guard Truck Bryant. The Brooklyn native carried his team offensively, scoring 21 points in 34 minutes of play. That point total was one off of Bryant's career-high of 22, set against Marshall.
Bryant's play seemed to spark West Virginia in the second half, but it wasn't enough to lift the Mountaineers over the top.
Bryant added three assists and made seven of eight free throws while committing two turnovers, and also canned four of his six three-point attempts.
For the second straight game, WVU inexcusably came out of the gate with little to no enthusiasm despite playing on the grandest of college basketball stages. From the opening tip, it was clear that only one team was playing with the passion and sense of urgency that tends to thrive in March Madness. Just as Syracuse did in the Big East semi-finals, Dayton took full advantage of West Virginia's lackluster production in the enthusiasm department.
As the game wound down, even head coach Bob Huggins was heard to comment on the lack of fire, saying, "I just don't understand how you couldn't be excited to play in this game." Post-game, his comments were echoed by assistant coach Eric Martin, who was visibly perplexed and frustrated with West Virginia's passive effort.
The half-hearted play wasn't the only chilling flashback from the loss to Syracuse. Against the Orange, the Mountaineers had a chance to tie on a three-point shot by Bryant, but the shot was blocked, leading to a runout at the other end. Against the Flyers, Bryant took a three trailing 57-54. The shot was blocked, and Dayton's Chris Wright leaked out. Wright received a perfect outlet pass from a red-clad teammate and flushed home an emphatic slam to extend the lead to five. For all intents and purposes, this was the turning point in the game.
Wright, Dayton's best player, finished with a game-high 27 points and added 10 rebounds. Teammate Charles Little, arguably UD's second best player, added 18 points. WVU's top two players, meanwhile, were not nearly as productive. Da'Sean Butler finished with 12 points, but made just four-of-13 shots from the field and turned the ball over five times. Senior guard Alex Ruoff finished his career with nine points on four-of-11 shooting. Ruoff fouled out with 1:50 to go.