The Dayton Flyers are officially the first double-digit seed in this year's NCAA tournament to reach the Sweet 16, as the Flyers took down Syracuse, 55-53, in the round of 32.
College basketball fans looking for an offensive explosion on a huge stage likely came away disappointed after watching Syracuse take on Dayton in the third round of the NCAA tournament.
But for those eyeing a Cinderella story that will actually make its way to the Sweet 16, it appears the glass slipper still fits for Dayton.
Following the game, President Barack Obama congratulated Dayton:
Congrats to the @DaytonFlyers on a huge upset win! Devin Oliver, I may need to take you up on that pick-up game one of these days. -bo— The White House (@WhiteHouse) March 23, 2014
Dayton was paced by the efforts of Dyshawn Pierre, who registered 14 points and six rebounds, and Jordan Sibert with his 10 points, four rebounds, two assists and two steals.
As for Syracuse, Tyler Ennis never sat on the bench during the game and finished with 19 points and three assists as the Orange's floor general. His play late in the game kept Cuse in it, but he wasn't able to come up with the final shot when it counted.
Prior to the start of the tournament, Jim Boeheim spoke about how his teams turn on a switch when the tournament rolls around regardless of its recent track record, per Joe Sullivan of The Boston Globe:
Last year, we lost five out of our last six games and went into the tournament [and went to the Final Four]. The tournament's a different thing. You can start playing well in one game, and all of a sudden, you can get on a roll.
While Boeheim notes that his team is much improved around tournament time, ESPN Stats and Info points out that the coach now has the most losses to double-digit seeds:
Jim Boeheim is the first coach in NCAA Tournament history with 6 losses to double digit seeds— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) March 23, 2014
With that in mind, the Orange went out on the court and tried to once again prove that they are a different team when the bright lights are shining. That plan didn't quite work out.
Neither Cuse nor Dayton put on a great performance in the first half, as Dayton took a 20-18 lead at the break. Syracuse.com provides a look at how terrible the first half was for both sides:
The first half mercifully comes to a close. Dayton leads Syracuse 20-18. Yes, it was that bad. DD— Syracuse Basketball (@syrbasketball) March 23, 2014
In the second half, Dayton once again came out and controlled the game through the early going, but Syracuse would get its punches in.
Cuse finally started delivering on what their coach was asking for during the intermission, as Syracuse.com notes:
Boeheim on message to team before second half: "Make some shots. I think that would be a good idea."— Syracuse Basketball (@syrbasketball) March 23, 2014
After both teams traded blows and swapped the lead multiple times, Dayton carried a lead throughout the late portion of the second half and took that into the final minute of play.
SportsCenter notes just how close the two teams were with just seconds remaining in the contest:
Great finish on deck! Syracuse trails by three to Dayton, 52-49, with 38 seconds to play.— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) March 23, 2014
How far can Dayton advance?
With just 16 seconds remaining, Ennis drove down the court and slashed to the basket to put the game within one point at 54-53. Dayton then got the ball back, but Sibert stepped out of bounds, giving the Orange life with just over 13 seconds remaining.
Ennis took a long jump shot that wouldn't fall, and Dayton pulled down the rebound. After the Flyers hit one of two free throws to push the lead to 55-53, Ennis took the ball all the way down the court and went for the three-pointer to win it, but he fired long.
With Ennis' miss at the end of the game, the Orange finished 0-of-10 from three-point range as the Flyers went 7-of-16 (43.8 percent) from behind the arc. ESPN Stats and Info provides a look at the shot chart for the Orange, which features a lot of red:
Syracuse was 0-10 on 3-pointers, its worst 3-pt shooting in a NCAA Tourn game. Its shot chart has alot of red pic.twitter.com/JxlbfmpR7K— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) March 23, 2014
Dayton head coach Archie Miller spoke about the victory that sent Dayton to its first Sweet 16 since 1984, per the TBS broadcast:
If you're going to beat Syracuse in here, you're going to need a little luck. Every time you advance it feels a little better....A couple of years ago when we got the job we set out to do something special and do it better than we've ever done it before.
Following the victory, Jon Rothstein of CBS Sports gave a pretty good illustration of the parity in college basketball during tournament time:
Dayton's win over Syracuse reiterates the minimal level of separation in CBB. Orange were once 25-0. Flyers were once a bubble team.— Jon Rothstein (@JonRothstein) March 23, 2014
Dayton now advances to take on the winner of Stanford and Kansas on Sunday in the Sweet 16. While it certainly wasn't the prettiest game for the program, it was good enough to secure a spot in the second weekend of play in Memphis.
With the Flyers advancing, they might be one of several double-digit seeds to make the second weekend of play. But after knocking off in-state rival Ohio State and Syracuse, Dayton will gladly carry the Cinderella title for now heading into the Sweet 16 portion of the tournament.
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