Dayton shocks Syracuse to reach the Sweet 16 for the first time in 30 years
POSTED: 01:30 a.m. HST, Mar 23, 2014
LAST UPDATED: 09:10 a.m. HST, Mar 23, 2014
BUFFALO, N.Y. >> Dayton coach Archie Miller almost didn’t want to look.
Syracuse’s star freshman point guard, Tyler Ennis, was open at the top of the key with 2 seconds left and the Flyers holding a two-point lead. When Ennis’ attempt to win the game clanged harmlessly off the rim, Dayton had a victory it had been chasing for three decades.
“We have a good program with great tradition,” Miller said Saturday after Dayton defeated Syracuse 55-53 in the NCAA Tournament to reach the Sweet 16 for the first time in 30 years. “Now, we have the ability to build, and that’s what it’s all about.”
Ennis had beaten Pittsburgh last month with a 40-foot shot at the buzzer, so he had the confidence to try again, even though Syracuse had missed all nine attempts from behind the arc.
“The last shot was a great shot. It was the right play,” Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim said. “I have no problem with that shot.”
Neither did the 35-year-old Miller, though he probably aged just a little bit while the ball was in the air.
“That thing was on line and he went for the win,” Miller said. “The thing that went through my head was the game at Pitt, when I saw that highlight 7,000 times when he banged the 3. I thought he was going to go to the basket. When I saw him raise up, I didn’t feel good about it.”
Dayton (25-10), the 11th seed in the South, now advances to the regional semifinals next week against No. 2 seed Kansas or 10th-seeded Stanford.
The third-seeded Orange (28-6), who finished second in their first year in the ACC, struggled all game against the swarming Dayton defense. They missed all 10 attempts from beyond the arc, while the Flyers hit seven times from long range.
It was the first time in 665 games that Syracuse failed to make a 3.
“It’s hard to digest any loss,” said Ennis, who finished with 19 points. “They did a good job defensively, and the looks we did get we didn’t capitalize.”
Dayton’s Dyshawn Pierre scored 14 points and Jordan Sibert, held scoreless in the first half, hit a key 3-pointer with 47.7 seconds left.
C.J. Fair had 14 points and 10 rebounds in his final game for the Orange.