Dayton thriving late in games after struggling in crunch time last season

first_imgBUFFALO, N.Y. — Last season, Dayton lost eight games by five points or fewer. Nearly every time the Flyers had a chance to win, the game agonizingly slipped away in the final seconds.This year, though, the story has flipped, as Dayton has won seven games by five points or fewer and is completely confident it can close out opponents. “Last year we lost a lot of close games,” Flyers big man Jalen Robinson said. “This year we have a different mind-set and a different approach to the game.”That became clear on a national stage when No. 11-seed Dayton (24-10, 10-6 Atlantic 10) stunned No. 6-seed Ohio State 60-59 on a Vee Sanford floater with 3.8 seconds left in the second round of the NCAA Tournament. The Flyers likely won’t blow Syracuse (28-5, 14-4 Atlantic Coast) out Saturday, and chances are they’ll need to win yet another close contest in order to advance to the Sweet 16. “We’ve been able to pull out a lot of close games,” Robinson said, “because we’re a tough-minded team and we stick together.”AdvertisementThis is placeholder textThe trend started in the first game of the season when Jordan Sibert hit a buzzer-beating 3-pointer against IPFW to propel Dayton to an 81-80 win. The Flyers beat NCAA Tournament teams Gonzaga and Saint Louis by five points, Ole Miss, St. Bonaventure and Duquesne by three and now Ohio State by one. It was a game Sanford admitted the Flyers probably would have lost last year. This year, though, they’re a lot more cohesive and confident. “I feel like what we went through last year helped us to execute the final play,” Sanford said. “Usually we was on the other side of that.”Robinson said there’s no one he and his teammates would rather have take the shot. Sanford makes those kinds of off-balance shots all the time in practice and games, so Robinson expected nothing less.He hopes Sanford or another Dayton player can keep the team’s dream season alive with some similar heroics against the Orange. They saw Mercer shock Duke. Now they want to stun Syracuse. “Having faith and staying together is a big part of pulling out those games,” Robinson said. “Last year we weren’t that close together off the court. “This year we’re all like brothers.” Comments Published on March 21, 2014 at 6:29 pm Contact Trevor: [email protected] | @TrevorHass Facebook Twitter Google+last_img

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