Last-second shot lifts newcomer Dayton
After a nearly three-decade wait to get into the women's NCAA tournament, the Dayton Flyers made the most of their first appearance.
In the most exciting finish of Day 1's eight afternoon games, the Flyers rallied to beat TCU 67-66 on redshirt freshman Brittany Wilson's putback with just more than one second left after a Dayton miss.
Dayton was the No. 8 seed and TCU No. 9, but the Frogs have far more NCAA tournament experience as a program (this was TCU's ninth appearance) than the Flyers. Which wouldn't really take much, since Dayton had never made the field before.
Coach Jim Jabir's Flyers had won at least 21 games in both of the past two seasons and came very close to making an NCAA breakthrough, but it didn't come until this year.
And what a memorable first game it was. Dayton trailed by eight points at halftime, and was down by 18 with just less than 14 minutes left. Thank you for showing up and good bye, Dayton, right?
Don McPeak/US PresswireBrittany Wilson's last-second putback helped Dayton win its first NCAA tournament game.
Didn't turn out that way. Wilson started the rally with a jumper at the 13:36 mark, and then finished it with that last-second layup. Wilson had just six points in the game, but they were big. Senior Kendel Ross led Dayton with 17 points.
The Flyers' next assignment is, shall we say, even tougher: facing No. 1 seed Tennessee at Thompson-Boling Arena in Knoxville. Tennessee lost to an NCAA tournament first-timer last season, Ball State, but it's going to take nothing short of an astonishing effort by Dayton to replicate that Monday.
Also during the day's second set of games, Duke pounded No. 15 Hampton 72-37. The second-seeded Blue Devils, who have home-court advantage in the early rounds, should have a much harder game Monday at Cameron Indoor Stadium when they face LSU. Van Chancellor's squad had a so-so season in the SEC (9-7) but LSU is an athletic team that could give Duke's offense some problems.
Saturday afternoon's other games looked like they had upset potential for a while, but in both cases the favorites prevailed. Fourth-seeded Kentucky, the SEC runner-up, held off a Liberty program that knows something about beating big-conference schools, 83-76. SEC freshman of the year A'dia Mathies had a career-high 32 points to lead the Wildcats.
Kentucky, playing in Louisville, should almost feel like it has a home-court advantage against Michigan State in the second round Monday.
And in Tallahassee, Fla., Florida State will indeed have that edge, as the third-seeded Seminoles will face No. 6 St. John's next. Florida State had to scrap to beat Teresa Weatherspoon's No. 14 Louisiana Tech team 75-61 in Tech's return to the NCAA tournament after a three-year absence.