BUFFALO, N.Y. — Junior guard Jordan Sibert’s 3-pointer with 49 seconds left put Dayton up by six and the 11th-seeded Flyers held on to stun third-seeded Syracuse 55-53 in an NCAA South Regional third-round game on Saturday night at the First Niagara Center.
Syracuse guard Tyler Ennis missed a 3-pointer just before the final buzzer and Dayton celebrated.
“I thought it was a really good shot,” said Ennis, who scored Syracuse’s final 11 points. “I didn’t think I had time to drive. Even when it bounced off the rim, I thought it was going in. But you can’t hit every shot.”
Forward Dyshawn Pierre scored 14 points and Sibert added 10 for the Flyers (25-10), who will play Kansas or Stanford in a Sweet 16 game next weekend in Memphis, Tenn.
“I’m so really proud of our character,” Dayton coach Archie Miller said.”They really believe in one another. We’re a tough group right now.”
Dayton senior forward Devin Oliver said, “If we’re going to the Sweet 16, nothing’s better.”
Ennis led Syracuse (28-6) with 19 points and forward C.J. Fair added 14.
After a turnover by Ennis, guard Scoochie Smith made a layup with 1:43 left to give Dayton a 49-46 lead. Syracuse sophomore forward Michael Gbinije then missed a 3-pointer from the left wing — his only miss in five attempts — and Sibert followed with his 3-pointer from the right wing.
Ennis converted a three-point play with a layup and free throw at the 41-second mark, cutting the Dayton lead to three. The freshman then hit two free throws to make it 52-51 with 24.8 seconds left, but Pierre sank two free throws two seconds later to make it a three-point game.
Ennis followed with a layup with 16 seconds left, cutting the margin to one. Syracuse had a chance to go ahead after a Sibert turnover with 13.8 seconds left, but Ennis missed a jumper with eight seconds left.
Pierre opened the door by making only the first of two free throws, but Ennis opted to take a 3-pointer down by only two and misfired, giving Dayton its second upset in Buffalo.
The Flyers beat Ohio State in Thursday’s second-round game.
“We had a couple of great shots at the end, but they didn’t go in,” Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim said. “It was a tough loss, but they all are at this point. Someone gets beat on the last play, and tonight it was us.”
Dayton led 20-18 at the half as both teams struggled to score. Dayton shot 34.8 percent from the field and Syracuse shot 30.4 percent.
Syracuse, the nation’s No. 1-ranked team for much of this season, led for only 15 seconds.
“They’re a smaller team, but they’re scrappy,” Fair said. “They’re quick to the ball and rotations. Every time you put ball the down, they’ve got a hand in there.”
Dayton jumped to an 11-4 lead on a jumper from guard Vee Sanford, quieting the pro-Orange crowd. Syracuse’s campus is about 2 ½ hours from First Niagara Center.
Syracuse chipped away and took its first lead at 17-16 on two free throws from Fair with 2:47 left in the half. Sanford promptly hit a jumper to put Dayton back in front.
Syracuse’s lowest-scoring first half this season was 23 against Georgia Tech. Its lowest-scoring half overall was 21 against Miami.
Syracuse forward Jerami Grant and guard Trevor Cooney combined for 34 points in a win over Western Michigan on Thursday. The two combined six on Saturday.
A layup by Fair put Syracuse ahead 23-22 and got the crowd loudly chanting “Let’s Go Orange!” But Dayton did not flinch, and when sophomore guard Khari Price nailed a 3-poiner with 12:56 remaining, the Flyers’ lead was 32-26.
The Orange rallied and took a 36-35 lead on a Grant steal and layup from sophomore Michael Gbinije, a Duke transfer. Syracuse did not have the lead and the ball until 8:02 remained in the game, and a layup from Ennis gave them their first three-point lead at 40-37.
Undaunted, Dayton overcame the deficit and the crowd and built a five-point lead with 4:35 remaining on back-to-back 3-pointers from Smith and Pierre.
NOTES: Syracuse F Jerami Grant fouled out in the
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