Redshirt junior guard Jordan Sibert (24) hit a 3-pointer to put the Flyers ahead by one point against IP-Fort Wayne in UD’s season opener, Nov. 9, at UD Arena. UD held on for the one remaining second and won 81-80. Courtesy of Erik Schelkun/Elsestar Images
‘My shot was good, but the effort that my teammates made was great’
By: Steven Wright – Sports Editor
Jordan Sibert never hit a game-winning shot that beat the buzzer prior to Saturday.
It’s now no longer the case for him.
Following frantic final seconds of play, redshirt junior guard Sibert hit a 3-pointer with time expiring, giving the University of Dayton men’s basketball team an 81-80 opening victory against Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne Saturday, Nov. 9, at UD Arena.
Dayton trailed by two with 6.4 seconds left after sophomore guard Khari Price made the second of two free throw attempts. IPFW senior guard Pierre Bland attempted to throw a pass down the floor on the inbounds to senior forward Michael Kibiloski, but it was intercepted by Price at midcourt.
Laying on his stomach, he passed to freshman guard Kyle Davis near the center circle, who turned and found Sibert open near the left corner, making the winning basket with plenty of time left on the clock and completing a near improbable play.
Sibert, a few seconds prior, had also missed the front end of two free throw attempts while his team trailed by two with just over 10 seconds left.
“I thought to myself, ‘If I can get a chance, I have to redeem myself for that free throw,’” Sibert said. “When I saw [Price] make the play and Kyle got open, I know Kyle is a very unselfish player, just like Khari is. I knew if I got to an open area, I’d be able to make a shot.”
Dayton came out sluggish in the second half after taking a 45-33 lead into the break. IPFW outscored UD 31-12 in the first 12:15 of the half to take a seven-point lead, its largest of the game.
After going on its own 14-1 run over the next 4:38, capped by a basket and successful free throw by sophomore forward Dyshawn Pierre, and retaking a 68-65 lead in the process, UD continued nearly another three minutes without making a basket down the stretch.
IPFW led 76-71 with 34 seconds remaining when Pierre powered his way into the paint, knocking down a floater and getting fouled in the process in a key play in the game’s closing minute. Pierre finished with a game-high 24 points
on 9-of-16 shooting to go with eight rebounds.
Down four with 20.8 seconds left, Price went coast-to-coast untouched for an uncontested layup to cut the lead back to two.
Dayton forced a turnover off the following inbound pass and was fouled, but Sibert missed the first free throw
attempt, leading to the final events of the game.
Redshirt senior guard Vee Sanford, who scored eight points, was knocked over to the floor by the leaping Price on his late steal. After getting up before Sibert’s shot and then watching it fall, he began wandering the floor in a curious fashion, trying to comprehend what he had just witnessed instead of running into the pile of his celebrating teammates.
“I kind of didn’t really know what happened,” Sanford said. “I look up and I see Kyle pass the ball to Jordan and he hit the shot. It was just something I’ve never experienced in college and I was kind of in a state of shock.”
Head coach Archie Miller said he reminded his team after the game about the numerous times last season they found themselves in close contests, and how they were unable to push through. Dayton was 0-7 in games decided by three points or fewer last year.
“To watch our team go from about eight minutes and compete and fight and then find a way to dig down through a lot of adversity, that’s the thing I’m most excited about in today’s game,” Miller said.
Miller commended all three players on their actions during the final play.
“We had a bunch of guys that found a way to do it,” he said. “Khari Price, he’s one of the most rock solid kids I’ve ever been around, to put him in a situation to make a play like that. And Kyle Davis as a freshman in his first game of his college career, to have the wherewithal to pick the ball up and snap it out one pass and not jack a shot up, know the clock. And then for Sibert to have some tough guts there to knock down a big shot.”
After hitting 6-of-11 from three in the first half, Sibert’s winning bucket was only the second shot attempted from beyond the arc in the second half by Dayton. The other was Price’s lone miss from long range, as he finished 4 for 5 from three and scored a career high 17 points.
Miller said he thinks getting away from its structured offense and playing in more of an individual mode. backfired in the second half.
IPFW was led by Bland with 18 points, and redshirt junior forward Steve Forbes, who added 17. It was without senior guard Luis Jacobo, a second-team preseason Summit League selection and returning leading scorer, who fractured his hand in practice the day before the game.
It sounds like a difficult task to present a better memory than the first Sibert created one game into his career at Dayton, but he said it is in his plans to do so.
“I want to top it,” he said. “It was a great game. We did a lot of good things out there, a lot of bad things. For the first game, the atmosphere was amazing. We got the win, and that’s all that matters.”