Dream denied: Virus dashes Dayton's magical hoops season

In this Feb. 22, 2020, photo,  Dayton's Trey Landers stands on the court prior to the team's NCAA college basketball game against Duquesne in Dayton, Ohio. The tattoo on his arm says "Dad I know you are always walking beside me" in honor of his father, who was fatally shot when Landers was 8 years old. (AP Photo/Aaron Doster)
In this Feb. 22, 2020, photo, Dayton's Trey Landers stands on the court prior to the team's NCAA college basketball game against Duquesne in Dayton, Ohio. The tattoo on his arm says "Dad I know you are always walking beside me" in honor of his father, who was fatally shot when Landers was 8 years old. (AP Photo/Aaron Doster) (Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

CINCINNATI, Ohio – The coronavirus outbreak has abruptly roused the University of Dayton's men's basketball team, and the city it uplifted, from a dream of a season.

The 29-2 Flyers, ranked No. 3 in The Associated Press poll, were rolling into tournament play on a 20-game winning streak that had lifted spirits in a city battered in the past year by a mass shooting and devastating tornadoes.

But the NCAA's decision Thursday to cancel March Madness, one of many such cancellations decided this week as the virus spread, ended hopes for the small Roman Catholic school’s first Final Four appearance since 1967, when an upstart Flyers team lost to Lew Alcindor-led UCLA in the championship game.

Flyers fans shook their heads Friday in the Oregon entertainment district, where the shooting occurred Aug. 4.

“I feel like they got robbed,” said Shawn Mathews, 21, who said he is a cousin of guard Trey Landers.

His father, Norman Mathews, 49, said they had been “looking forward to them going all the way. Wow.”

Canceling, though, was the right decision, with the virus spreading, he said.

“You don’t know what to expect,” the older Mathews said. “I guess we have to wait till next year.”