“It his (Finkel’s) sacrifice that let me feast out there,” May said of his point-filled 20th birthday party in the UD Fieldhouse.
“He did more than just pass me the ball,” May added, “he picked my man for me a lot of times, too.”
May’s 45 points were only four shy of the all-time Dayton record of 49 set by Don (Monk) Meineke in 1950 and topped by one the 44-point performance Finkel turned in against Maryland only last Thursday at New Orleans.
Finkel turned the offensive post into a feeding ground with this logic: “You get a guy hot like Don was, then you just keep him shooting.”
FINKEL SCORED only nine points, and his one field goal was the first time in his varsity career he’s been held to a lone ace from the field. Three times before (against Miami and Loyola of Chicago as a junior and against Loyola New Orleans this season), Finkel has scored only three fielders.
Finkel was not eager to reveal the fact that he has been suffering from a bad cold since returning from the Sugar Bowl trip.
“Donnie played a whale of a game, and as long as the team keeps scoring, that’s all I care about,” Finkel said.
Had May played a little less aggressively, he might have smashed Meineke’s standard. May fouled out with 6:29 remaining in the game, and three of his five personals were offensive fouls.
Still, it was May’s aggressiveness and his shooting ability that got the ball in the hoop so many times in his highest scoring night since he scored 50 for Dayton Belmont back in 1963. May’s previous best night as a collegian was the Loyola game in which he bagged 31.
HOW DOES HE compare his high school half-hundred with his collegiate 45?
“The time I got 50,” he said, “most of them were tips. The ball was just going in from everywhere last night.”
Xavier coach Don Ruberg was much more enthusiastic while agreeing with May’s last words.
“May’s performance was one of the finest individual performances every seen around here,” Ruberg said. “He got Dayton the offensive rebound, the defensive rebound, he shot from outside, he drove, he hooked — what more can anyone do in a basketball game.”
After May’s 26 points led Dayton away to a 57-44 halftime lead, the 5,880 payees roared a little louder every time he clicked off another counter in the second half.
May had 40 points by the time the second half was seven minutes old. His turn-around southpaw jumper from 20 feet with 13:01 remaining built a 25-point Flyer bulge, 79-54. One of May’s most enthusiastic supporters at this time was his coach, Don Donoher.
The Flyers boss stood in front of the bench yelling for a play that would get the ball to May for a shot in close. The ball got to May, but it was no easy shot that he took. With a soft touch, Donnie lofted a left-handed hook that seemed to come up over the side of the backboard to settle in the twine. That was at 11:41.
May’s 43rd marker was a free throw at 8:06, and his points 44-45 were rung up at 7:43 on a driving layup after Finkel had fed him from the low post.
At 6:29, May fouled Xavier’s Bryan Williams and Meineke’s record had weathered its second stiff test in succession.
DONOHER SAID he knew May had a shot at the record when he reached 40 points.
“May had a great night,” Donoher continued, “but did you see the way Finkel looked for him? The rest of the boys were unselfish, too. And that’s a good sign. But Henry was simply hunting for May.”
With both teams applying tight man-to-man defensive pressure from mid-court on in, the game was fast and foul-filled. Sixty-six fouls were whistled — 35 on Xavier and 31 on Dayton — and each side lost two players for committing one too many. Finkel joined May in Dayton’s bench-bound purgatory, and Xavier’s Tim O’Connell and Jim Lacey were shown to a seat by a stripe-shirted usher.
Dayton made 37 of 53 free-throw attempts (the UD all-time record is 40 for 58 against Louisville in 1954) and Xavier was 21 for 34 at the line.
Bobby Joe Hooper cashed in 11 in a row to set a Dayton record for number of consecutive free throws. He has now converted 33 straight free throws in a string that goes back seven games to Middle Tennessee. The old record was 28 in a row by John Horan in 1955.
Hooper can boost his record even higher in Dayton’s next go Saturday at DePaul.