The Dayton Flyers held off a late surge from the St. Bonaventure Bonnies to win 75-71 in the Atlantic 10 Championship Quarterfinals on Friday night at Barclays Center.
Dayton: Kendall Pollard – 26 points on 11-for-16 from the field, 7 rebounds, and 3 assists. Jordan Sibert – 19 points on 5-12 shooting, 2-5 on threes, 2 rebounds, 2 assists, and 3 steals. Scoochie Smith – 11 points (3-7 FG, 1-1 on threes), with 6 assists.
St. Bonaventure: Marcus Posley – 26 points on 7-for-16 form the field, 2-6 on threes, 10-10 on free throws, with 4 assists and 2 rebounds. Dion Wright – 24 points on 10-for-11 from the field, 4-5 on threes, 9 rebounds, and 3 assists. Andell Cumberbatch – 8 points (3-5 FG, 2-3 on threes), 5 rebounds, and 4 assists.
Turning Point: St. Bonaventure led 54-51 on a Iakeem Alston layup with 10:16 left in the second half. Daytong responded with an 8-0 run capped by a three-point play from Kyle Davis at the 8:14 mark. Daytong held the lead until the 3:32 mark when Youssou Ndoye got a put-back layup to make it 65-64 Bonnies. Dayton took the lead back for good on a Jordan Sibert three with 1:09 left that made it 69-67.
Dayton Head Coach Archie Miller: “Great game. Really hardfought game. Thought St. Bonaventure really did a great job, and playing them already twice this season, for the third time, they were really ready. Made some adjustments and they were sharp. Kept us on our heels. Our defense really had our work cut out for us most of the night.
“But we found ways. We had ten steals in the game. Guys stepped up and made some big plays; in particular, I think these two guys made some of the biggest plays down the stretch for us. But all in all, it’s a great team effort for us. We are very fortunate and happy to win the game.”
Q. You had a lot of close games in March last year; with a lot of new guys, does that help you in a situation like this?
COACH ARCHIE MILLER: “There’s not really that many new guys. The heartbeat of the team are the five returning guys. That’s the pulse; that’s sort of the core, and that core played in a lot of big games together all year. They have done it through March and they did it all year long this year. They have logged a ton of minutes and played a lot of games together, and they have been in some tough spots. I think every game at this time of year sort of feels like this. And they have expected that. I don’t think there’s anything easy.
“So we have been in the moment. I think Darrell did a great job tonight; young guy, first conference tournament game, was able to play 15 minutes. He banged two threes. And Bobby, in his six minutes, was able to get us a bucket, as well, and sort of hold serve. We’ll see how we do moving forward. We need those two guys to sort of help us a little bit more, but we are not going to get shaken up a whole lot.”
Q. Can you just talk about how difficult it is in general to beat a team three times in a season?
COACH ARCHIE MILLER: “We didn’t talk about it. I think when you talk about things, it starts to get in people’s minds, and it’s like games, we never discussed it. I think the one thing about beating a team twice in a regular season, in my opinion, you can do it again, because you’ve already done it twice. So that’s the way we looked at it.
“But we didn’t really talk a whole lot about it. We were very nervous about the game. I think St. Bonaventure is coached by one of the more underrated coaches in all of college basketball. Coach Schmidt does a phenomenal job; he always has.
“Those guys were spaced well today. They shot the ball extremely well. Dion Wright, in particular, from three, that threw a monkey wrench into what we were doing. He hadn’t done that coming int. And this is the first time that Marcus Posley had really gotten off on us all season.
“So we got to see the best of those two guys, and they were a very, very strong one, two punch and Cumberbatch really improved, as well. He was able to make some big shots tonight and he had played well coming into the tournament.
“I feel bad for St. Bonaventure because in my opinion all freshmen point guards, one of the best point guards we’ve seen in the league for a while as a freshman wasn’t able to finish the season for them. When he comes back next year, they are going to have a nice backcourt with him and Marcus.”
Q. Can you take us through that go-ahead three that you had? Seemed like you were a little quiet down the stretch but then in that big moment, seeing your shots.
JORDAN SIBERT, Dayton Guard: “I don’t really know exactly what the play was that we called, but I know Kendall, he had a great drive through the lane and he kind of went in the air and I was just trying to get to an open area. I think he and Kyle were open, but Kendall did a great job of finding me.
“It was just a shot that I shoot all the time. My coaches always tell me, if you’re open, shoot the shot. And they believe in me; my teammates believe in me. So when I had that opportunity, it was a normal shot, and it was great to have my team uplifted by it.”
St. Bonaventure Head Coach Mark Schmidt: “It was a great game. Frustrating in how we lost at the end but I thought, give our guys credit. Going into the game, Dayton had dominated us two games this year, you know, one at home and one away. They had outscored us 699 from threes. So going into the game, we knew if we were going to win, we had to do a better job protecting the threepoint line and we had to do a better job of attacking them.
“I thought Dion couldn’t have played better. Marcus couldn’t have played better. We had guys step up, and it was back and forth. We need to do a better job in transition defense. We would score; they would come down and attack us. Dayton is a good team.
“But really proud of our guys. Disappointed in how it ended but I can’t complain. Can’t complain about the effort of our team. And it’s disappointing, with Youssou and Chris, and then how it ended. I think it hurts, but I think it’s a great learning experience, a great lesson for our young guys that you really have to execute at this level to win, especially the last two or three minutes. Dayton I thought did a better job in that area.”