Ten days after not seeing any time against Saint Louis, sticking to the bench except when he was riding a stationary bike behind it, Dwayne Cohill found himself at the free-throw line with just over four minutes to play Tuesday at the Siegel Center.
The Dayton Flyers led 56-51 when Cohill was fouled by Virginia Commonwealth’s Marcos Santos-Silva. He made 1 of 2 free throws, but earned Internet fame by winking at the TV camera while at the line. Fans shared video of the moment on Twitter.
Perhaps Cohill drew inspiration from teammate Obi Toppin, who has been captured on video several times this season waving to the camera as a teammate shoots free throws and waved to the camera again Tuesday after falling to the court. The wink was just a minor footnote on a big night for Cohill, who delivered the most important performance of his career in one of the biggest games.
Cohill's numbers — six points and four rebounds in 21 minutes — don't stand out next to Jalen Crutcher's 18-point night in Dayton's 66-61 victory, but his production in the last three games is a great sign for Dayton, a team that needs all the help it can get down the stretch. Cohill had been a regular part of the rotation until a two-game span — against Fordham and Saint Louis — but he's now firmly back in his old role and playing better than ever.
"I was going through some stuff," Cohill said. "There were some things going on inside the team. I wasn’t mad about it. I knew my teammates were going to handle their business, and I was going to handle mine. My job at that point was to be a good teammate, and my teammates kept telling me to keep ready, and my time would come. I just waited for my time to come, and in the Rhode Island game, I stepped in and hit a couple shots and it carried over to UMass."
Cohill scored seven points against Rhode Island and four against UMass. He has made 5 of 6 field goals and 5 of 6 free throws in the last three games. His only made and attempted field goal against VCU, a 3-pointer with 8:50 to play, was a big one. Dayton made only two field goals in the last 10 minutes. It scored the rest of its points at the free-throw line.
Cohill didn't leave the court in the last 12 minutes. That may be the most surprising number considering where he was earlier this month.
"He was huge," Dayton coach Anthony Grant said. "I think (Rodney Chatman) picked up his third foul with (12:30) to play, and we went with Dwayne. I thought he did a really good job defensively. He came up with a couple big 50-50 plays and made some plays on the offensive end. He was in a flow and a rhythm so we decided to let him ride it out, and he did a great job."