Buffalo, NY (WGR 550) -- It was a night of upsets in the Third Round of the 2014 NCAA Tournament at First Niagara Center. The (11) Dayton Flyers upset (3) Syracuse Orange 55-53, while (7) UConn Huskies defeated (2) Villanova Wildcats 77-65.
The Flyers controlled the pace and play for most of the opening half. The 11-seed’s largest lead of the first was 7 points, when Syracuse struggled to hit a field goal. The Orange went more than six minutes without a made basket through the middle of the first half. The 3-seed went 0-5 from behind the three-point line in the first, including a 0-3 performance by Trevor Cooney. The guard had just 2 points in the half.
Both Dyshawn Pierre and Vee Sanford scored 6 points in the first to lead the Flyers. Dayton also outrebounded Syracuse 19-16 in the half, while the two teams each had 5 rebounds on the offensive end. C.J. Fair led the Orange in scoring with 6 points, thanks in part to 4-6 shooting from the foul line. Syracuse shot just 7-23 (30.4%) from the field in the opening half, while Dayton was one better, 8-23 (34.8%).
The two teams picked up the pace in the second half. Dayton pushed their lead to 6 points, 32-26, but a 10-3 run by the Orange gave the team its second lead of the game. The scoring run ended when the two teams were tied 40-40, midway through the half. The Flyers regrouped and never looked back thanks to a pair of clutch three-point baskets.
Syracuse was 0-10 from behind the three-point line, while the Flyers went 7-16, including 6-11 in the second half. Tyler Ennis had a chance to win the game with a three-pointer at the buzzer, but it did not go in. The freshman guard led all scorers with 19 points in the game. Pierre led the Flyers with 14, while Jordan Siebert added 10 points.
Villanova jumped out to an early 7-0 lead over the Huskies that was capped by a Ryan Arcidiacono three-pointer less than two minutes into the game. The sophomore guard finished the half with a tea-high 8 points, thanks in part to 2-2 from behind the arc. The Wildcats would hold the lead for much of the half, until UConn went on a 14-4 run to close the half with a 25-24 lead.
At one point the Huskies scored 14 straight points, and held Villanova scoreless for 9:22. The run was stopped when JayVaughn Pinkston made 1 of 2 free throws following a Terrence Samuel Flagrant 1 technical foul call. DeAndre Daniels led Villanova with 6 points in the half.
The two teams traded three-point baskets almost at will over the first five minutes of the second half. They also traded the lead back and forth with the scoring plays. Shabazz Napier was in foul trouble for much of the second half, but managed to lead all scorers with 25 points in just 25 minutes. Arcidiacono finished the night with 18 points to lead Villanova in scoring.
The gap closed to a 3 point UConn lead with around eleven minutes to go in the game, but Napier and the Huskies would extend the lead and keep distance between themselves and the Wildcats. Villanova was outrebounded by the Huskies 36-30, including 17-14 in the second half. The Wildcats got within 5 points with just 0:57 to go in the game, but made free throws by UConn and missed shot attempts at the other end kept the 2-seed from staging the comeback. UConn closed the night by scoring the final five points for a 77-65 win.
The Huskies advance to Sweet 16 in the East Region to play the winner of (3) Iowa State and (6) North Carolina at Madison Square Garden on Friday.