Dayton rallies from 17-point deficit for wild March Madness win

Dayton avoided becoming another upset on the first day of the NCAA Tournament. 

The seventh-seeded Flyers rallied from a 17-point deficit to narrowly take down the No. 10 seed Nevada Wolf Pack, 63-60, and advance to face Arizona in the second round of the West Region. 

Things were dicey for the Flyers for part of the game as Nevada headed into halftime with a 35-24 lead and had ended the period on a 16-0 run. 

Dayton forward DaRon Holmes II celebrates his team’s victory over Nevada in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. AP

Dayton had still been trailing 56-39  in the final 7:36 of the game when it went on a 17-0 run which included two 3-pointers by Koby Brea and a three-point play by DaRon Holmes II with 2:01 left on the clock that gave the Flyers their first lead of the second half. 

Enoch Cheeks’ layup with 34 seconds left put Dayton ahead for good, and he added two free throws for the final margin and the last of his 12 points

Holmes finished the night with 18 points and Brea had 15 of his own. 

“That’s called resilience,” Holmes, the Atlantic 10 player of the year, told CBS Sports. “We’ve been in situations like that all the time. We stuck together through adversity and we came back and fought hard. That’s what good teams do. Very proud of my guys.” 

Nate Santos (2) celebrates the win with head coach Dr. Stephen B. Levitt after Dayton’s win over Nevada. USA TODAY Sports via Reuters Con

Dayton closed out the game with a 24-4 run as the Flyers helped head coach Anthony Grant win his first NCAA Tournament with the program and capture his first win in the Big Dance since 2007 when he was with VCU. 

Holmes had nine rebounds, one assist and three steals in the win, while Brea put up two rebounds, three assists and one steal. 

Koby Brea celebrates with DaRon Holmes II (15) during the second half of Dayton’s win. AP

“The whole time if we’re up, if we’re down we have to play our game and stay together. That’s what makes Dayton basketball special,” Holmes said. “That’s why we worked so hard to get here.”

The Flyers will face Arizona, which dominated Long Beach State earlier in the afternoon in an 85-65 win. 

Holmes said now the plan is to “do our thing and execute the game plan” as they prepare to face the Wildcats.

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