HOW SWEET IT IS! Dayton Headed to Sweet 16
DAYTON 55, SYRACUSE 53
BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) - THE University of Dayton is to be reckoned with.
Dyshawn Pierre scored 14 points and Jordan Sibert, held scoreless in the first half, hit a key 3-pointer with 47.7 seconds left as Dayton stunned Syracuse 55-53 Saturday night to earn a spot in Sweet 16 for the first time in three decades.
Syracuse was poised to pull out another close victory, but Tyler Ennis missed two jumpers that would have given the Orange the lead in the final seconds.
Dayton (25-10), the 11th seed in the South Regional, advances to the regional semifinals next week and will play Kansas or Stanford.
The third-seeded Orange (28-6), who finished second in their first year in the Atlantic Coast Conference, struggled all game against the swarming Dayton defense, missing all 10 attempts from beyond the arc, while the Flyers hit seven times from long range.
After Sibert stepped out of bounds with 14 seconds left and Dayton up by one, Ennis took a jumper from just inside the 3-point line instead of driving the lane as he had all night. The standout freshman finished with 19 points on 7-of-21 shooting, including 0-5 on 3-pointers.
Syracuse fouled Pierre and he made one free throw. Ennis rushed down court and missed the potentially winning 3 as the buzzer sounded.
Sibert finished with 10 points and Sanford had eight.
It was another close win for Dayton after beating in-state rival Ohio State 60-59 Thursday. After that game, the Dayton Daily News mocked Buckeye fans who refer to ''The Ohio State University'' with a headline that read: ''THE University of Dayton.''
Fair had 14 points on 4-of-14 shooting and 10 rebounds in his final game for the Orange. Jerami Grant had just four points and attempted only three shots before fouling out late. Trevor Cooney, who broke out of a long slum with four 3-pointers in the second round against Western Michigan, had two points and missed all four shots he took from behind the arc.
Dayton, which improved to 11-0 when holding opponents under 60 points, led by as many as seven in the first half and extended its two-point halftime lead to six on the transition strikes the Flyers thrive on. After Cooney missed a 3 from the left corner, Khari Price hit a 3 at the other end after a quick rush to make it 32-26 with 12:54 left.
The game went back-and-forth from that point, with Fair and Ennis hitting layups to give Syracuse a 40-37 lead with 7:48 left.
The Flyers reeled off seven straight points to regain the lead. Scoochie Smith hit a 3 from the top of the key and a wide-open Pierre drained another from the left corner after some slick passing.
Grant's lay-in halted the rush and Ennis followed with a pair of court-long dashes and layups to pull the Orange within 47-46 with 2:42 left.
The Flyers extended the lead on Smith's breakaway layup after a Syracuse turnover and Sibert's 3 at the shot clock buzzer gave the Flyers a 52-46 lead with 47.7 to play.
Ennis came back with a three-point play just 7 seconds later and then hit two free throws to make it a one-point game with 24.8 seconds left.
Before the game started, the Syracuse fans were already chanting `Let's Go Orange!' It didn't help, as Syracuse suffered through its worst first half of the year, hounded by Dayton's intense man defense.
The Orange committed four turnovers in the opening minutes and fell behind 11-4 on Sanford's jumper at 11:33, seven of those points coming off Syracuse miscues.
The Flyers went into the locker room leading 20-18 and had to feel good about their defensive effort.
Ennis struggled more than he has in his standout freshman season, going 1 for 8 and unable to convert the shots he has hit all year.
Syracuse started 25-0, and the Orange rose to No. 1 before losing six of their final nine games.
LOUISVILLE 66, SAINT LOUIS 51
ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) - Saint Louis did something it hasn't done all season Saturday - and it proved costly against defending national champion Louisville.
The Billikens went 0 for 15 from 3-point range in a 66-51 loss in the third round of the NCAA tournament.
They shot long, came up short, missed to both sides and even had a couple blocked. It was easily the team's worst long-ranging shooting performance of the season.
Saint Louis, a 32-percent shooting team from behind the arc this season, had made at least two 3s in every game and had 190 total. They hit 9 of 18 treys in Thursday's come-from-behind, overtime victory against North Carolina State.
''I thought we took a lot of good shots today,'' said forward Dwayne Evans, who led the way with 16 points but missed his only 3-point attempt. ''They weren't falling, but we had the right guys in the right spots.''
Saint Louis (27-7) shot 40 percent from the field.
Mike McCall Jr. missed all six of his 3-pointers. Jake Barnett (0-4), Jordair Jett (0-2), Rob Loe (0-1) and Austin McBroom (0-1) also misfired from that distance.
''We're going to keep taking shots if they're good shots,'' coach Jim Crews said. ''We don't have a plan before a game to say, `OK, we're going to take X number of 3s in this game and that game.' We don't do that because I think that you've got to have a balance to be really good.''
The champs had a lot to do with Saint Louis' struggles.
Louisville (31-5) mixed defenses repeatedly, using man-to-man, the 2-3 zone and even a little 1-1-3 to make sure no Billikens could get open looks from the corners.
''We wanted to smother the 3,'' Louisville coach Rick Pitino said. ''This team reminds me of Colorado State last year: Extremely well coached in all phases of the game. And we felt if we gave up the 3 we could get beat tonight, so we will take that away.''
It worked to perfection.
Louisville made six treys. Luke Hancock, who finished with 21 points, drained two 3s midway through the second half that helped the Cardinals create some cushion in a tight game.
Saint Louis just couldn't answer.
The Cardinals have the size and athleticism to close out on the 3-point line, and it showed Saturday.
Making matters worse for the Billikens, they had 18 turnovers. Louisville had nine steals to go with five blocks.
''They're very good defensively,'' Crews said. ''They change things up. They do press and they play zone and have different shifts and so forth, and they mix it up with man. They keep you a little bit off balance with that, which is a good thing because basketball is a rhythmic game and they keep you out of rhythm with it.''