City Sports Report

Dayton Flyers Weather Turbulence; Bonnies Go Home

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It was one of those days that reminded you of just how high the level of play in the Atlantic 10 actually is. It reminded you where these teams have gone in the NCAA; why brackets are shattered, balled up, and torn to pieces in the office break room. These are not mid-major teams. This is one of the top seven power conferences, and in a third straight Quarterfinal match-up decided by less than five points, the Dayton Flyers won a hard fought battle with the St. Bonaventure Bonnies.

The Flyers defeated the Bonnies for the third straight time this year, and where the other games between the the two were decided in Dayton’s favor by a combined 31 points, St. Bonaventure seemed in control of the game until the last second.

Down 72-71 after St. Bonaventure guard Marcus Posley hit a layup with twelve seconds remaining, the Bonnies sent Dayton leading-scorer Jordan Sibert to the line for the second time in that minute. He would only make the second of those two attempts.

With six seconds left, Posley drove hard into the lane, but somewhere in the gather, Kendall Pollard knocked the ball out and threw it Kyle Davis who would score on the other end.

“Seeing the gap, thought I could get to the basket,” Posley said of the play. “Unfortunately, he got his hand on the ball. It didn’t pan out the way we wanted it to, but proud of the guys. It was a great effort today.”

“We just wanted to try to get the ball out of Posley’s hands,” Dayton leading-scorer Jordan Sibert said of the defensive stop with six seconds remaining. “He did a great job all game and we wanted to try to key in on him.”

While it was yet another St. Bonaventure turnover that sealed their fate, it didn’t help much that Sibert couldn’t put them away from the free throw line. In the final minute, Sibert went 2-4 from the charity stripe.

“Just looking at my teammates, just telling me, you know, just shoot the shot; telling me that we need them,” Jordan Sibert said of the free throws. “I think I missed two; I don’t really remember.

Dayton pushed the tempo early and often, A10 Most Improved Player of the Year Kendall Pollard often running the floor and finding his way into the lane with an easy basket or emphatic jam. He had ten points in the first 12 minutes of play, and would lead all scorers with a career-high 26 points.

On the other end was an Atlantic 10 Championship record-tying effort from junior forward Dion Wright. He finished with 24 points, and it took nearly 35 minutes of play for him to miss a single shot. His shot selection was patient and confident, often passing up potentially forced looks for an extra pass.

“My teammates found me in good position, and I just caught the ball wherever I was,” Wright said. “I just tried to make a basket.”

While his reaction to the moment may have been bittersweet and modest considering the circumstances of the lost, it should be noted that him shooting .909 from the field is the highest shooting percentage, with more than ten field goal attempts, in Tournament History since Rhode Island’s Antonio Reynolds-Dean who also shot 10-11 from the field against George Washington in 1999.

In fact, the entire St. Bonaventure team shot exceptionally well, particularly in the first half. They carried a 36-34 lead into the locker room at halftime, shooting 14-21 from the floor. They would finish the game 25-43, with Dayton shooting nearly as well, 27-52.

But it was turnovers that determined the outcome. In addition to the broken play at the end, the Bonnies turned the ball over 16 times.

The Dayton Flyers will battle Rhode Island in the Semi-finals, an E.C Matthews led team looking to get out of the bubble and into the NCAA Tournament with a few huge wins.

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