Ohio State belongs to Dayton.
The Flyers can lay claim to having bragging rights on their “big brothers” from down the road after Vee Sanford banked in a layup with 3.8 seconds remaining to lift 11th-seeded Dayton to a 60-59 victory over sixth-seeded Ohio State in the second round of the NCAA Tournament on Thursday.
Sanford finished with 10 points, while Dyshawn Pierre led the Flyers (24-10) with 12 points in a matchup of Ohio schools separated by about 75 miles. Dayton advances to play third-seeded Syracuse, a 77-53 winner over Western Michigan in a South Region matchup on Saturday.
The Buckeyes (25-10) had one last chance to pull out the victory, but Aaron Craft’s driving 10-footer hit off the backboard and rolled off the rim as the buzzer sounded.
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Craft remained on his back in disappointment as the Flyers rushed to celebrate at their bench at the other end of the court.
“I just wanted to do everything I could to help our team win, and down the stretch I couldn’t do that today,” Craft said. “I can take the blame for that.”
Sanford scored by getting a step around Craft, a two-time Big Ten defensive player of the year.
“There so many things that are going through my mind right now that I wish could have gone differently, but they didn’t,” Craft said. “He made a big-time play, and we couldn’t come back.”
Buckeyes coach Thad Matta supported Craft.
“Honestly, me telling him how to play defense would be like me telling somebody how to build a rocket ship,” Matta said. “I'll live and die with that kid any day of the year.”
Sam Thompson scored 18 points and Craft added 16 for Ohio State, which was eliminated after one game for only the third time in 26 tournament appearances.
Dayton improved to 4-6 all time against Ohio State. And it advances to play a weekend game for its second straight tournament appearance, after going 1-1 in 2009.
It was a back-and-forth game that featured 15 lead changes, befitting of two schools that feature numerous connections.
Dayton coach Archie Miller spent two seasons at Ohio State working under Matta. And Flyers guard Jordan Sibert left the Buckeyes two years ago and transferred to Dayton.
The Flyers took a 58-57 lead with 26.3 seconds remaining when Pierre hit all three free throws after being fouled in the left corner by Shannon Scott.
The Buckeyes regained the lead on Craft’s driving reverse layup with 15.5 seconds left.