Even in the first round play-in games, you can't accuse college basketball's plays of not having a flair for the dramatic.
A day after Ole Miss roared past BYU by overcoming a 17-point halftime deficit, fans were treated to another titillating matchup between the Dayton Flyers and Boise State Broncos.
The Broncos built a halftime lead but it would be the Flyers who ended up with the victory, scoring 36 points in the second set and earning the 56-55 decision.
Article continues below
Trailing by seven with less than four minutes left, Dayton went on a 10-2 run to close the gap, thanks in part to its raucous home crowd.
Senior guard Jordan Sibert's three-pointer from deep put Dayton ahead by one. The game ended on a leaning Boise State air ball from outside the arc, clearing the way for the Flyers to face sixth-seed Providence on Friday.
Article continues below
Boise State has been as good as any team at stealing victories on the road this season. The Broncos beat 24th-ranked San Diego State in February, breaking a 29-game home court streak for the Aztecs. They came close to repeating history, but missed shots and fading defense doomed them down the stretch.
Broncos guard Derrick Marks earned Mountain West Player of the Year for a season that saw him average 19 points a game on almost 50 percent shooting. But his errant three at the buzzer closed the game and the team's short tournament stay, though Marks said he was trying to draw contact and just couldn't get the whistle.
"I made a move and I missed a shot," Marks told reporters. "The ref didn't call it."
He had a teammate to his left on the play, who would have had to take a distant shot but was open. Instead, Marks dipped his shoulder for a hopeful foul and launched a prayer of a shot.
Dayton benefitted in the excruciatingly close game from playing on its home court.
It was the first NCAA Tournament team to dress in its own arena since 1987. And Dayton is a particularly deadly team to face on its own hardwood - the Flyers were 16-0 this season when playing at home.
Still, Dayton may not have been in this game if it weren't for its senior guard. Sibert sat most of the first half with three fouls, and without him the Flyers trailed by nine. He reentered in the second, sparking a streak in which Dayton made seven of its first eight shots.
The win gave the Flyers an 18-17 overall record in the tournament, while Boise State has yet to win a game in seven postseason appearances.