Living in Ohio, I was really looking forward to cheering on the small, hometown team, the Dayton Flyers. They upset Ohio State and Syracuse, and everyone has been going crazy. No one expected them to reach the second round, and here they were, matched up against the number 1 seeded, Florida Gators. Florida was obviously the more hyped up, and talent team, but the question was: Could Dayton pull of some more magic?
At the beginning of the first half, Florida put a lot of doubt in my mind as they jumped out to a 17-10 lead. Florida was 5 for 9 from the field, while Dayton was only 3-13! My worst nightmare of Florida putting the game away early, was becoming a reality.
However, Dayton caught fire from three, and fought right back into the game. Dayton started 0-4 from three, but then made four straight three pointers to give UD a 2 point lead (21-19). Dayton was able to score with tremendous three point efficiency (Went 11 minutes without a two point FG), and contain Florida's offense.
Florida went into a drought after the 17-10 lead, and went 4 minutes without a basket. This let Dayton back into the game, and let me believe Dayton actually had a chance of winning!
And then the beating started.
Florida came right back after Dayton's 11-2 run, and started pressuring Dayton a lot more on defense. Through the last 5 minutes of the first half, Dayton did not make one field goal, and had 2 turnovers! After they had reached a 21-19 lead with 7 minutes left, Dayton only scored 3 points to end the half.
Florida, on the other hand, went out and started making more of their shots. They finished the half shooting 60% from the floor, and scored 19 points in 7 minutes. Their big men and aggressive play led to second chance points and points in the paint. Florida had 18 points in the paint and 8 second chance points, while Dayton had 6 points in the paint and only 1 second chance point. Overall, the first half ended with Florida beating up on Dayton with a 19-3 run.
The second half started with a change of heart, as Dayton made two straight three's and Florida had two straight, terrible possessions. With the two three's, Dayton had pushed the deficit to only 8 points! However, Dayton's three point shooting back fired, as they fell in love with the three ball.
Dayton missed three straight 3's, and then threw the ball away with 3 straight turnovers. While Dayton struggled on offense, Florida continued to grab boards, attack the basket, and shoot free throws. Florida was able to shoot 48% from the field for the first 35 minutes of the game and out rebounded Dayton by 11 rebounds by the end of the night.
With Florida playing tough and smart, and Dayton going through offensive struggles, the deficit went right back to 14 points! Leading the way with Dayton's offensive struggles was Jordan Sibert. Sibert had been UD's leading scorer during the season, but did not score one single point today! On the contrary, Scottie Wilbekin was playing great as he scored 19 points, had 3 assists, and 3 steals.
The game did not end in a landslide, however. Dayton had a late game run where they pushed the lead back to 8 points (With 2:37 left in the game), but on defense, could not get a defensive rebound! Florida had 3 straight offensive rebounds on 2 straight possessions, but Florida, on the other hand, could not make anything! Florida went on a run where they missed 9 straight field goals!
Finally, Dayton got defensive rebounds, but looked very scrambled and tired as they did not score for 3 straight minutes. Florida's great defense held Dayton to only 52 points (Averages 72 this year) today, and only 40% shooting from the field. Finally, Florida did not let Dayton make any big plays near the end.
At the end of the game, Dayton had played as hard as they could have played, but Florida was just the better team.