We should just inscribe the MVP trophy now, because if Dayton keeps flying like this, there is no doubt who the most valuable Flyer is.
Jordan Sibert sank a 3-pointer from the elbow on a kick out from Scoochie Smith that gave the Dayton a late one-point lead over Boise State, and the Flyers avoided a collapse in the final 37 seconds to advance to the round of 64 with a 56-55 win.
That kid has a real knack for those things, huh?
Sibert went 4-for-7 from the floor, and scored 13 points, despite spending most of the game on the bench with foul trouble. His absence allowed Boise State to dominate for long stretches of the game. But the Broncos just imploded at the end of the game when given multiple chances to rip the hearts out of the Flyers, and the strong home crowd that filled the arena.
Yeah, you are going to hear about that: how Dayton should never have been allowed to play in their home arena, except that everything about playing in their home arena had been changed for this event. The Flyers dressed in a different locker room. The benches were on the opposite side of the floor. Even the baskets are different.
The NCAA does such a good job of disguising these places, you would be forgiven if you didn't recognize it when you walked inside. About the only clue the players had that they were home was the short bus ride, the logo in the corner, and ... well, the throngs of red shirts in the stands.
So yes, Dayton was home, but having been in the arena last year when Xavier played in the First Floor, the stadium can rock just as hard for any local team that gets assigned there. The Flyers fans just had a shorter drive than every other fan base.
And Boise State has no ground to complain. They just simply imploded.
Montigo Alford missed almost a gimmee layup that fell into the hands of Kendall Pollard. And then Pollard missed both of his free throws which could have made Boise's job much more difficult.
But first Derrick Marks dribbles into the corner and just gets swarmed by the Dayton defense. He was lucky to get the ball knocked out of his hands and out of bounds by the Flyers to redeem himself.
Only the play that Boise State drew up looked like something you might think would work on a playground and had no business in an NCAA Tournament game. The ball got back in Marks' hands, but much too late. He hesitated because the look was bad.
Kyle Davis jumped, and looked to make a mistake leaving his feet. But Marks tried too hard to draw the contact with his wayward 3-point shot. It landed harmlessly out of bounds.
Dayton survived, much like they had all season, with a depleted roster that wouldn't come close to worrying about knocking their heads on a door frame.
And they did it with Sibert sitting on the sidelines cheering. Sibert played just 24 minutes after being called for three fouls in the first half. It looked like that was the end for the Flyers, but this team has shone the resilience to hang in there. With Sibert leading the way, they held tight until he could bring them back.
That is where Kendall Pollard comes in. Pollards scored 17 points and grabbed some of the most important rebounds of the game (which incidentally all came on the defensive end as Dayton struggled to clear out their own shots for second attempts).
If you are Boise State, you have to step back and realize that you were outdone in this game. Everything played into the hands of the Broncos, between the foul trouble for Sibert, and the multiple opportunities to put this game away. But outside of Marks, no one had a great game. Marks scored 23 of the 55 points. The rest of the team was 12-for-34 shooting, and 4-for-14 from 3-point range.
And most importantly, they executed poorly down the stretch, and that includes Marks, who seemed unsure that he wanted to be the hero.
Jordan Sibert didn't have that problem. That is why his shot with 37 second left found the bottom of the net.
That is why Dayton is dancing on to Columbus, Ohio, to meet up with Providence.