Dayton pulls off miraculous second-half comeback to defeat Nevada in first round


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The No. 10-seeded Nevada Wolf Pack looked like they were going to move on to the second round of the NCAA Tournament with a win over the No. 7 Dayton Flyers. 

But this is March, and wacky things happen on the hardwood. 

The Flyers posted a 63-60 victory in the first round instead, closing out the game on a 24-4 run.

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DaRon Holmes II (15) reacts with Enoch Cheeks (6) of the Dayton Flyers during the second half against the Nevada Wolf Pack in the first round of the NCAA Tournament at Delta Center March 21, 2024, in Salt Lake City.  (Christian Petrsen/Getty Images)

With about 7:36 left to play, Nevada led 56-39 after a a Jarod Lucas 3-pointer. But after coming back from a TV timeout, Nevada went cold at the worst possible time. 

Even worse for Nevada, Dayton was starting to feel it on offense. 

Koby Brea, who dropped 15 points in the game with 5-for-8 shooting from beyond the arc, hit one of those threes to make it 56-43, and DaRon Holmes II continued to chip away at the lead with layups and free throws. 

Brea’s 3-pointer with 4:23 left in the half made it a six-point game, and that’s when cheers started getting much louder in Los Angeles, where the West Region games are being held. 

After a turnover by Nevada’s Kenan Blackshear, Nate Santos knocked down a 3-pointer to make it 56-53. Lucas tried desperately to make a three to pad Nevada’s lead once again, but it was eventually Brea who tied it up with another three with 2:45 to play. 

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Lucas broke a scoreless drought that lasted over four minutes when he made a jumper to retake the lead. But Holmes dunked home a pass from Brea and was fouled on the play. He converted the and-one, and, for the first time since the first half, Dayton was on top. 

Blackshear made a layup with 58 seconds to go, giving Nevada a one-point advantage at 60-59. 

But the Flyers were relentless, and Santos made a layup with 37 seconds to play. 

Dayton celebrates

The Dayton Flyers celebrate defeating the Nevada Wolf Pack 63-60 in the first round of the NCAA Tournament at Delta Center March 21, 2024, in Salt Lake City.  (Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

The Wolf Pack still had a chance to kill some clock and get the lead back following a timeout. But when Nick Davidson got the ball in the paint, he dribbled it off his leg, and Enoch Cheeks stole the ball. 

That was just the advantage Dayton needed, and Santos knocked down two free throws to make it a three-point game. 

Looking to tie it up with their final possession and send the game to overtime, the Wolf Pack couldn’t get the ball to Lucas like they wanted. Instead, Blackshear had to heave a 3-pointer at the buzzer. He shot up an air ball, and Dayton began to celebrate its miraculous come-from-behind victory. 

Holmes led Dayton with 18 points on 5 of 8 shooting and 8 of 9 from the charity stripe. He also had nine rebounds, one assist and three steals. 

Three different Nevada players scored in double-digits — Davidson (15), Blackshear (15) and Lucas (17). 

Koby Brea

Koby Brea of the Dayton Flyers reacts during the second half against the Nevada Wolf Pack in the first round of the NCAA Tournament at Delta Center March 21, 2024, in Salt Lake City.  (Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

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The Flyers head to the second round to face No. 2 Arizona. 

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