Buffalo, NY (SportsNetwork.com) - Let the madness begin!
Vee Sanford's runner in the closing seconds gave Dayton the lead and Aaron Craft's driving shot at the buzzer rolled off the rim, as the Flyers pulled off a 60-59 victory over Ohio State in the opening game of the second round of the NCAA Tournament.
Dayton took a 55-52 lead with 2:35 remaining on a pair of free throws by Jordan Sibert, but a three-point play by Craft on the ensuing trip tied it for the Buckeyes.
Devin Oliver then missed a pair from the stripe for Dayton and Ohio State countered at the other end with a floater in the lane by Sam Thompson with 57 seconds left.
The Flyers worked the ball around the perimeter on the next possession and Dyshawn Pierre was fouled on an attempt from beyond the arc with 26.3 seconds to play. He calmly sank all three from the line to give Dayton a 58-57 lead.
Craft, though, made an acrobatic layup through traffic with 17 seconds left to again put the Buckeyes in front.
Sanford took the inbounds after a timeout and raced down the right side of the lane, banking a shot home to give the Flyers the lead with 3.8 seconds remaining. Craft took off the other way and got to the lane before putting up a shot that hit the backboard and fell off the rim as time expired.
"I wasn't nervous," said Sanford about the final offensive play. "I just thank God and thank coach for trusting me. We've probably drawn up a play like that and I messed it up previously, but he just kept his trust in me, and I'm just thankful that the shot went in."
Sanford finished with 10 points for the Flyers (24-10), who are seeded 11th in the South Region and will face Syracuse in the third round on Saturday.
Pierre made each of his two field-goal attempts and all seven free throws to finish with 12 points and a game-high eight rebounds, while Oliver scored 11. Sibert and Matt Kavanaugh each contributed nine in a balanced attack for Dayton, which rarely ever has the chance to play Ohio State despite the proximity of the schools.
Thompson led the Buckeyes with 18 points and Craft chipped in 16. Ohio State (25-10) saw its run of four straight Sweet 16 appearances come to an end. It was the nation's longest active streak entering the tournament. The Buckeyes had reached the Final Four in 2012 and lost to Wichita State in last year's West Region final.
"I just wanted to do everything I could to help our team win, and down the stretch, I couldn't do that today," said Craft, who was defending Sanford on the go-ahead bucket. "I can take blame for that. They made the last punch, and we couldn't. "
Ohio State scored the first five points, but Dayton answered with 10 of the next 12 and maintained a slim lead for the next seven minutes. Craft scored the last five in a 7-0 run that gave the Buckeyes a 22-21 lead with 8:15 left in the half.
Dayton, though, ripped off seven in a row late to open a 33-28 edge before a jumper by Thompson in the final minute sent Ohio State into the break down just three.
The Flyers increased the advantage to eight when Kendall Pollard's layup with just over 13 1/2 minutes remaining made it 43-35, but Ohio State responded with the next 10. Thompson accounted for eight and his tip-in with just over 10 minutes left gave the Buckeyes a 45-43 lead.
It remained tight from there.
"Obviously, an incredible finish, but we're really proud of how our guys prepared and approached to battle against what we consider an elite team," said Dayton coach Archie Miller. I thought both teams played pretty hard. It was back and forth. But at the end of the day, you know, in this tournament, like everybody knows, a few plays here and there have to go your way (to advance)."