Rodney Wright made a jump shot from the top of the key with two seconds remaining to lift Howard University to a 58-56 double-overtime upset win tonight over Dayton before 10,073 fans.

Wright's basket climaxed the Bison's strongest prformance of the season. Howard (8-4) hit 72 percent of its field goal attempts, including 13 of 16 shots in the second half and two overtimes. Dayton (8-4) relied on guard Jack Zimmerman to overcome the absence of two injured starters -- guard John Thomlinson (7.8 points per game) and forward Richard Montague (14-2).

"We've been trying to win on the road like this all year," said Howard Coach A. B. Williamson. "We were one pass away from victory in our first two overtime losses but tonight we kept our poise. The kids were not to be denied."

In the second overtime, with the score tied at 54, Howard's Bernard Perry found James Ratiff for a dunk with 39 seconds left. Zimmerman countered with the last of his 24 points, a jumper with 26 seconds to go, before the Bison called timeout to set up wright's shot.

Dayton had held the ball for the entire first overtime to play for one shot. With three seconds left in the priod, Zimmerman missed a 20-foot shot. s

In regulation, Howard led, 52-48, after Ratiff's pair of free throws with 17 seconds left. Zimmerman came back with a driving layup six seconds later, and Dayton called time. On Howard's inbounds play, Rodney Wright was called for charging, and Zimmerman then connected on a baseline jumper with four seconds left to force overtime.

Williamson, faced with an imposing Flyer lineup consisting of players 6-foot-10, 6-10, 6-8, 6-6 and 6-3, decided to operate a semidelay, spread offense. The strategy worked, with floor leader Wright coming up with five assists and making six of seven shots.

The Bison played a high-percentage game -- 15 of their 23 baskets were layups or dunks -- as Larry Spriggs made seven of eight shots and Ratiff hit seven of 12.Spriggs and Ratiff powered Howard to a 24-11 rebounding advantage.