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Row12.com - A Community of Sports Writers and Fans!                                               ***Attention Writers***
NCAA Tournament: Day 2 Ends with the Dayton Flyers Standing Tall
By Mike Tanchevski

Columbus played host to four second round NCAA Tournament games for the second time in four years. West Virginia vs. Buffalo, Maryland vs. Valparaiso, Oklahoma vs. Albany and Providence vs. Dayton squared off at Nationwide Arena. Four local taverns were selected to serve as the official gathering spots for the eight visiting team’s fans. The downtown Arena District was brimming activity well before action tipped off indoors.

The sites first session had West Virginia and Buffalo open play, the sell-out crowd looked to be distributed among fans from all four teams (WVU, Buffalo, Maryland & Valparaiso). As the game progressed, Terrapin and Crusader fans cheered the Bulls in their bid for the upset. There would be no upset; the Mountaineers held off a late game surge by the Bulls and went on to win 68-62, advancing to the third round.

WVU started out strong and never trailed in the game, taking a 36-26 lead at the half. The Bulls hung around throughout the second half, tying the game at 62 on a Xavier Ford 3-point shot with 2:45 left on the clock. They didn’t score again as West Virginia salted the game away on a pair of free throws by Devin Williams and a three-pointer by Tarik Phillip.

Ford led Buffalo in scoring with 16 points, Shannon Evans (15) and Justin Moss (13) also scored in double digits. Moss hauled down 7 rebounds.

WVU had a trio of players in double digits, as well. Williams (17), Juwan Staten (15) and Daxter Miles Jr. (10). The Mountaineer bench outscored the Bulls bench 21-10.

Maryland avoided the upset bid by Valparaiso and defeated the Crusaders 65-62. Valparaiso shot 46.2 % from 3-point range while only connecting on 36.4% field goals. Alec Peters; 18 points and 7 rebounds and Tevonn Walker; 14 points and 5 rebounds led the Crusaders on the night.

The outstanding backcourt of Dez Wells and Melo Trimble guided the Terrapins to the win. Each scored 14 points and Trimble led the team with 10 rebounds and 4 assists.

Maryland jumped out to an 11-2 lead only to see it deteriorate to a 21-15 deficit with 8:50 on the clock. Four three-pointers, three by Jared Nickens and one by Trimble coupled by a Wells bucket and a pair of Trimble free throws gave the Terrapins a 31-27 halftime lead.

Valparaiso kept the game tight in the second half, forging a pair of ties. The Crusaders had the last possession down three points. Keith Carter, not the primary shooter, forced a 3-point shot up only to have it swiped away by Varun Ram, who had just entered the game for Maryland.

Oklahoma led from beginning to end on its way to a 69-60 victory over Albany. The Sooners advanced to the Round of 32 for the first time in three years.

Albany, down by 10 points in the first half, whittled the deficit down to 5 points early in the second half, but couldn’t manage to get any closer as the Sooners pushed the lead to 12 points.

TaShawn Thomas scored 18 points for OU and Buddy Held added 15. Ryan Spangler pulled down 9 defensive rebounds and a pair on the offensive end. The Great Danes had four of their five starters reach double figures, guard Peter Hooley led the way with 15 points.

Dayton, as expected, had the most raucous crowd in Nationwide Arena. The Flyers played a virtual home game as fans draped in Dayton flags paraded through the Arena District for hours prior to the late night tip-off. The game actually ended after 1:00 am. It helped. The Flyers downed No. 6 seed Providence 66-53 to advance to the Round of 32 where they face the Oklahoma Sooners.

The home atmosphere boosted the Flyer fortunes through the entire game as the majority of the 17,000-plus crowd participated in “Let’s Go Flyers” chants through-out the building.

Dayton was down 3-5 at the 15:22 TV Timeout. From that point forward, they never trailed. The closest Providence came was 30-30 tie at the 17:33 mark of the second half.  

Dayton took the lead on a Scoochie Smith free throw at the 12:25 mark of the opening half; both teams exchanged baskets for the remainder of the half. The Flyers headed for the locker room leading 28-25.

Providence tied the game early in the second half before Jordan Siebert made a three point jump shot to send Dayton on a 5-0 run. The Flyers stretched their lead to nine, 44-35, before the Friars rang up six unanswered points to pull within three, 44-41, with 6:40 in the game.

Dayton then shot 4-of-6 from the field and 12-of-14 from the free throw line to salt the game away.

Play continues in Columbus on Sunday as Dayton squares off with Oklahoma and Maryland plays West Virginia.


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