Well, Dayton is back at it.
One year after advancing to the Elite Eight, the Flyers beat Boise State, 56-55, in the first round of the NCAA Tournament on Wednesday. They trailed by 12 in the first half – and by seven with less than four minutes to go – but found a way to win on their home court and advance to the field of 64.
“It was a game of swings,” Dayton coach Archie Miller said on CBS Sports Radio’s Ferrall on the Bench. “I thought we got off to a good start, especially defensively. The first half, we just really lost our way with foul trouble and the game started getting away from us a little bit. Luckily in the second half, we got it turned around. Give Boise credit. They’re a heck of a team. But without a doubt, the back eight minutes of the game, we found a way to (get some turnovers). It just works out that way. Our team’s been in that situation a lot all year.”
Boise State had a chance to win at the buzzer, but Derrick Marks’ lean-in three-point attempt was way off the mark. Some felt that Marks was fouled by Dayton sophomore guard Kyle Davis on the final play, while others felt Marks created the contact.
“Well, just standing there looking at it from my point, obviously there’s always contact,” Miller said. “But I thought Kyle Davis just did a really good job of not leaving his feet. He held his ground. We were fortunate. Marks is probably one of the best guards we’ve played against in a long, long time.”
Marks finished with a game-high 23 points on 10-of-21 shooting from the floor.
Dayton, however, was more balanced, as Kendall Pollard (17 points), Jordan Sibert (13) and Scoochie Smith (11) all finished in double figures. The Flyers lost the rebounding battle 33-25, but Pollard, Dyshawn Pierre, Bobby Wehrli and others corralled the big ones when they counted most.
“We had a lot of places where they ran them down and got them or deflected the ball out of bounds,” Miller said. “I thought we were able to come up with the big ones that we needed to. It’s just one of those games. Boise is a terrific team.”
Dayton, which went 16-0 at home this year, became the first team to play an NCAA Tournament game on its home court since 1987.
“We were fortunate the fact that we played in our arena with that type of atmosphere, which was one of the most electric atmospheres I’ve ever been a part of,” Miller said. “It was just a special night for our team, our school and our fans. We just refused to lose. We made plays. That’s 22 games in a row at home that we’ve won, and I’m glad that streak is intact.”
The Flyers (26-8, 13-5) advance to face No. 6 Providence (22-11, 11-7) this Friday at 9:57 p.m. ET. Providence is coming off a two-point loss to No. 1 Villanova in the Big East semifinals.
“Providence is really a tough-minded group,” Miller said. “Coach (Ed) Cooley’s done a terrific job. They were right there last week against Villanova. They got maybe America’s best point guard in Kris Dunn, LaDontae Henton – a slew of other guys. At the end of the day, we’re trying to play the same way. It’s going to be a tough-fought game, a hard-fought game. We know what we’re in for.
“Our biggest concern right now is how quickly we get turned around physically,” Miller continued. “We played three games in three days last week, finished on Sunday, had a quick turnaround for this type of game we played tonight – we’re coming in sort of a little bit wounded from the last 10 days. We got to get recovered. It’s a great game Friday. Our guys will be ready.”
Dayton, it is worth noting, began its tournament run with a one-point win last year as well. The Flyers beat sixth-seeded Ohio State, 60-59, before taking down No. 3 Syracuse and No 10 Stanford. They ultimately lost to No. 1 Florida, 62-52, in the Elite Eight.