DAYTON — For 16 minutes, Bernardo Macias was in mid-season form, and Wooster was helpless to stop him.
Macias poured in 18 points in the first half en route to a 22-point performance to lead the Dayton Dust Devils to a 56-45 season-opening win over Wooster on Saturday afternoon.
The victory gives Dayton, which outscored Wooster 19-2 at the line, some nice momentum heading into its own Sutro Classic. Dayton opens Thursday at 7:30 p.m. against ROP.
“For the first game, I thought we played well,” Dayton coach Jason Santos said. “Our full-court pressure was good and we were rotating pretty consistently. For the first three quarters, I felt like we executed well. We had a lot of looks that we didn’t knock down.
“Bernardo played very well. He is our go-to guy, he and (Austin) Fletcher in the post. We have to do a better job of getting the ball to him in the right places.”
You had to like Macias’ aggressiveness coming out of the gate. He had 12 of Dayton’s first 20 points, staking the Dust Devils to a 20-8 lead. He added six second-quarter points, four of those coming in the last 42 seconds, to give Dayton a 31-21 lead after 16 minutes.
“This is my senior year, my last year of high school basketball,” Macias said. “No more fooling around. I felt good today. My teammates did a good job of getting me the ball.”
Macias productivity slowed down a bit in the second quarter. Wooster was bringing weak-side help over when Macias turned into the lane, and as a result he was surrounded every time he touched the ball or so it seemed.”
“I do have to work on different moves and different combinations,” Macias said. “Coach Santos has been working with me a lot (on post moves). He deserves the credit.”
Macias was at his best in the closing minutes in both the first and second quarters.
When Wooster closed the gap to 11-8 with 1:41 left in the opening period, Macias led a 9-0 run with a layup and a putback, which turned into a three-point play. Steve Thompson had two free throws and Jon Joyner dropped in a buzzer beater to cap the surge.
Wooster, thanks to five points from Evans Nuanes (17 points), went on an 8-2 second-quarter run to make it 23-18 with 2:59 left in the half. A trey from the left corner by Davis Winebarger, a free throw by Fletcher made it 27-21 before Macias finished off the half with two buckets in the final 42 seconds for a 10-point lead, 31-21.
The teams battled on even terms for the first three minutes of the second half, but then the Dust Devils went on a 11-5 run over a five-minute stretch to get the lead to double digits, 46-32, with 27.3 remaining in the third. Fletcher started the surge with a free throw, Macias followed with a putback, Blake Blocher had a putback and Fletcher scored on a hard drive to the basket to make it 42-27. A trey by Tony Keith and a drive to the basket by Nuanes made it 42-32. Blocher drained two free throws and Jeff Brooks added a hoop for the aforementioned 14-point lead.
Wooster wouldn’t go away, however, holding Dayton without a field goal the entire fourth quarter.
The Colts chopped Dayton’s lead to 48-40 with 3:48 left in the game. Dayton failed to score a point on its first 10 possessions of the final quarter, turning the ball over six times, missing a free throw and missing three shots from the floor. However, after that early 6-0 surge, the Colts were unable to put a dent in the deficit. Dayton went 8-for-12 at the foul line to keep the Colts at bay.
“In the second half, we got rattled,” Santos said. “I didn’t like the way we finished. Our shot selection wasn’t that good at times. We had open layups and settled for 3-pointers.”