By Dustin Dow
The Cincinnati Enquirer
Romain Sato knew coming into Saturday's game against Dayton that his defensive assignment might be the most difficult of the season.
The Xavier senior, known as much for his all-around defense as for his 3-point prowess, was being asked to stop Dayton's two best players, Ramod Marshall and Keith Waleskowski.
Xavier's Dedrick Finn celebrates after Romain Sato made a 3-pointer in the second half.
(Jeff Swinger photo)
The stat sheet from Xavier's 67-60 win at Cintas Center doesn't quite tell the story of what Sato accomplished. With Sato switching back and forth on them, Waleskowski and Marshall combined for 40 of Dayton's 60 points, or 67 percent.
But Sato seemed to be everywhere, limiting Waleskowski to two first-half field goals and forcing Marshall into seven missed 3-pointers. Marshall and Waleskowski did the bulk of their damage during a seven-minute 18-4 run in the second half.
"Defense wins the games," Sato said. "We were trying to make it hard for Marshall and Waleskowski, their two best players. It's tough to guard a point guard. He brings the ball so quick. And going back and guarding Waleskowski in the post is tough."
Sato's efforts simply made it easier for the rest of Xavier's defenders, who were freed up to help on defense.
"It's so important for our team because he guarded everybody," Xavier coach Thad Matta said. "Especially there in the second half, he did a great job on the boards."
Sato finished with eight rebounds, five in the second half.
COLE MAKES IMPACT: Brandon Cole gave productive minutes off the bench for Xavier, responding to coaches' insistence that he play with more effort.
Cole played 15 minutes and scored just five points, missing four free throws, but he played tight defense on Dayton center Sean Finn, who attempted just six shots.
"You've got to coach (Cole) every second, and he's accepted it," Matta said. "You have to stay on him, and you hope that he sees that pay off as a freshman."
DRAWING CHARGES: Backup guard Dedrick Finn took three charges against Dayton. It was the one that wasn't called, however, that was most noteworthy. Marshall made a spinning layup in the first half after making contact with Finn, who fell to the floor. Matta received a technical foul after arguing because no call was made.
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