No. 11 seed Dayton overcame poor free-throw shooting and turnovers to hold off No. 3 Syracuse in a tight defensive battle in Buffalo on Saturday, 55-53.
If there is a Cinderella team in the 2014 NCAA Tournament to pay close attention to, it might be the Flyers. Dayton, who shocked No. 6 Ohio State on Thursday, advanced to the Sweet 16 in the South Region. They will play the winner of Kansas – Stanford. It is the school’s first trip to the Sweet 16 in three decades.
Neither Dayton nor Syracuse could establish a strong lead for much of the game. Jordan Sibert hit a three-point shot inside the final minute to give Dayton a six-point lead, but Syracuse wouldn’t go away down during the final stretch. Tyler Ennis knocked down a jumper, a layup, and three free throws to keep the Orange in the game.
That’s where the heroics would end. Ennis wasn’t able to knock down the final two shots for Syracuse, including a three-point shot near the buzzer. The freshman, who averaged 12.8 points per game this season, finished with 19 points on the eventing. He missed all five of his three-point shots, and shot just 7-21 from the field.
Dayton shot just 41.3 percent from the field, which was barely better than Syracuse, who shot 38.9 percent. The Orange missed all 10 of the three-point shots.
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It was certainly not a flawless performance from Dayton, either. Archie Miller’s squad turned the ball over 14 times, and made just 10-of-18 free throws. Missed free throws in the final seven minutes kept the Orange’s chances alive.
Forward Dyshawn Pierre led the Flyers with 14 points, but Dayton received some key production from Soochie Smith. The guard knocked down a crucial lay up in the final two minutes, and drained a three-point shot just minutes earlier.
Senior guard Vee Sanford again helped boost the Flyers, adding eight points and four rebounds. Sanford hit the game-winning shot for Dayton against Ohio State.