With senior guard Jordan Sibert playing just nine minutes in the first half due to foul trouble, No. 11 Dayton struggled offensively against No. 11 Boise State and went into halftime trailing by nine points. Sibert’s return to the court certainly helped the Flyers in the second half, as Dayton shot better than 72 percent from the field and closed the game on a 10-2 run to win 56-55 at UD Arena.
The result wasn’t without controversy, as Dayton was playing in its home arena and there’s been plenty of debate as to whether or not a foul should have been called on Derrick Marks’ final shot attempt. But even with those issues (personally, Dayton had done enough to merit inclusion into the main bracket without having to play in the First Four), there were also basketball reasons as to why the Broncos saw a nine-point lead with 5:41 remaining slip away.
Dayton was far better offensively down the stretch, as they made their final six field goals with Sibert’s three with 35 seconds remaining being the difference. By comparison, Boise State made just one of its final eight shots from the field and on their final two chances to win the game Leon Rice’s team could not find a quality shot.
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First there was the ball screen for Marks at the top of the key which Dayton blitzed, with the two defenders forcing the Mountain West Player of the Year into the corner. Kendall Pollard stripped Marks of the ball, and following the review the Broncos kept the ball with 4.6 seconds remaining. Marks couldn’t get a good look on the final shot either, with his three-point attempt missing the mark as time expired.
That final play is one that will be disputed, and the added variable of Dayton playing a home game doesn’t help matters at all. But even with that being the case, better offensive execution and converting second chance opportunities at a higher rate would have resulted in Boise State winning the game.
Boise State collected 12 offensive rebounds, which worked out to an offensive rebounding percentage of 35.3 percent, but they scored just six second-chance points (three more than Dayton). Marks finished the game with 23 points but only one other Bronco, guard Montigo Alford (11 points), reached double figures. Dayton, finished with three players in double figures, with Kendall Pollard leading the way with 17 points and six rebounds.
Archie Miller’s team has navigated its lack of depth for a couple months now, and they simply find ways to win games. They don’t have much in the way of size, but the Flyers make up for it by expending maximum effort on both ends of the floor. With one NCAA tournament win under their belt, Dayton will look to pick up another when they take on No. 6 Providence Friday night in an East Region matchup in Columbus.
Unfortunately for Dayton, the prevailing question will be whether or not they had an unfair advantage by playing at home, and they aren’t the ones to blame for that being the case.