Published: Saturday, March 04, 2017 @ 8:11 AM
By: David Jablonski
Xeyrius Williams climbed the ladder Wednesday at UD Arena with the confidence of someone who had been there and done that.
The Dayton Flyers sophomore cut down the net as a senior at Wayne High School after winning the state championship. He cut down the net as a freshman at UD after the Flyers beat Virginia Commonwealth 68-67 in overtime on Senior Night to clinch a share of the Atlantic 10 regular-season championship. He cut down the net on another Senior Night on Wednesday as the Flyers celebrated a 79-72 victory over VCU and their first outright A-10 championship.
It has been quite a ride this season for Williams, who hit two late 3-pointers to beat Rhode Island in a key February game and earned a starting job in the final weeks of the season next to the four seniors.
“It’s a special feeling being trusted out there with some upperclassmen,” Williams said Wednesday.
Williams and fellow sophomores Ryan Mikesell, Sam Miller and John Crosby are the only players in UD history to win regular-season conference championships in their first two seasons. UD had never won back-to-back championships.
Foul trouble limited Williams to 10 minutes Wednesday. He was held scoreless for the first time since the second and third games of the season but was on the court for the opening minutes when Dayton took a 4-0 lead. That was key after the Senior Night ceremony.
“All the traditions of senior night, they tend to lull you to sleep,” Williams said. “It takes longer than expected. It was tough to get out there at the beginning, but we knew we had to come out strong off the bat and be ready to play.”
Williams has been a key cog for the Flyers all season. He scored 17 points in the previous game against Davidson. He’s averaging 7.9 points and 4.7 rebounds. He has 35 blocked shots.
The Flyers return to action at 8 p.m. Saturday, playing George Washington in the regular-season finale at the Smith Center in Washington, D.C. The A-10 tournament in Pittsburgh follows. The A-10 will release a bracket not long after the conclusion of Dayton’s game, the latest of the seven A-10 games today.
“Were happy about the moment now, but we’ve talked about it,” Williams said. “We have to be ready to go. We’ve got George Washington, and then we’ve got to be ready for the A-10 tournament.”