Steven Wright – Sports Editor
There were two buzzer-beating shots at UD Arena Sunday, Dec. 22.
Unfortunately for the University of Dayton men’s basketball team’s did not come at the end of the game, as a mental mistake gave the University of Southern California the upper hand in the final seconds of overtime.
USC senior guard Pe’Shon Howard went the length of the floor with 4.7 seconds left and hit a 3-pointer as time expired. The University of Dayton men’s basketball team fell 79-76.
Howard was guarded by redshirt senior guard Vee Sanford off an inbounds pass from under UD’s basket. Sanford shadowed Howard down the floor, but Howard pulled up and got a shot just over the reach of Sanford’s outstretched arm that fell, allowing USC’s players and coaches to storm Howard along the sideline.
“We didn’t execute a simple strategy to corral the ball coming down the floor,” said head coach Archie Miller. “We had a breakdown where the ball got to the outside … when all of our help was really triggered in the middle of the floor.”
Miller said USC should never have gotten the ball though.
With the game tied at 76 and the shot and game clocks separated by less than a second and 29 seconds to go, Dayton inbounded the ball and appeared to be holding for a final shot. Senior forward Devin Oliver drove though with less than 10 seconds left and was unable to get an up and under layup attempt to fall. USC gathered the rebound and called timeout, setting up its final shot.
“Coming out of that timeout, there was a very direct message to our team that we take the last one,” Miller said. “They don’t get an opportunity. Man or zone, we take the last one.
“We just had a breakdown coming out of the timeout on both of those situations. That’s on me. Those guys have to know what they’re doing in those situations and it cost us the game.”
It was the second season in a row USC defeated Dayton in overtime, taking a 63-61 game in Los Angeles, Calif., last season on Dec. 30, 2012.
Junior guard Byron Wesley scored 26 points and 10 rebounds for his third double-double this season. Howard, along with freshman forward Nikola Jovanovic added 12 points each for USC.
USC (8-4) held Dayton under 40 percent shooting from the field for the first time this season, owned a 41-25 advantage in bench points and 52-32 in the paint.
Redshirt junior guard Jordan Sibert led UD with 21 points, including 5 for 9 from three. The remainder of Dayton’s team went 1-of-14 from behind the arc.
Sophomore forward Dyshawn Pierre also had 16 points and 10 rebounds in 38 minutes.
USC held a height advantage, boasting two players at least 7-feet tall, but Dayton outrebounded the Trojans 42-41, including 18 offensive, and held a 21-19 edge in second chance points.
Sibert said they wanted to crowd and pressure USC’s big men as much as possible on both ends, but didn’t think the effort matched what was needed.
“They were really able to get what they wanted on that end of the floor,” Miller said. “And if they missed it, their big guys were really plowing downhill because we were rotating.”
Dayton (9-3) led 37-32 at halftime as Pierre hit his own buzzer beating shot with a two-handed shove shot with 0.4 seconds left on the clock from the right elbow.
USC’s shot came in a much more clutch situation.
“I was praying [Howard’s shot] wasn’t going to go in, but unfortunately it just dropped,” Pierre said.
The win was USC’s first in a true road game during out of conference play since Nov. 30, 2012 at UC Riverside, snapping a six-game losing streak. It also was the first time Dayton lost to a team from California at UD Arena, having won the previous 11 contests.
Dayton now starts its three-day Christmas break and will begin practicing again on Thursday, Dec. 26.
“This is a wake-up call for us in terms of adjustments and things we have to get back to,” Miller said. “We have a week where there’s a couple days for our players to get away. We’re going to have to be ready to Murray State [University] next Sunday.”