By: Steven Wright – Sports Editor
The University of Dayton men’s basketball season has been continuously defined by last second shots. Dayton’s win in Oxford, Miss., Saturday, Jan. 4 was no exception.
Senior forward Devin Oliver scored a career-high 26 points and hit the game-winning three in the final second of overtime, and the Flyers defeated the University of Mississippi 83-80.
Oliver received an inbounds pass with 5.2 seconds to go at his own free throw line in a tie game. Running up the middle of the court, he stopped from about 25 feet away and let go of his shot, which banked off the glass and fell in with 0.3 left for the win. A final Ole Miss heave hit off the backboard and Dayton players rushed the court for the second time this year.
It was the second near buzzer beater by Dayton (12-3) this season. Redshirt junior guard Jordan Sibert hit a go ahead three in the final second of a win against Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne in the first game of the season. The University of Southern California beat UD Dec. 22, 2013 as time expired in overtime at UD Arena.
“It’s always a lot of fun when you win this one,” head coach Archie Miller said. “A week and a half ago, we were sitting in the locker room and lost it the same way. Bottom line is when you come on the road, nothing’s easy, and we dealt with a lot of different types of things tonight.”
At the end of regulation in a tie game, redshirt senior guard Vee Sanford held the ball for a final shot. Waiting until five seconds remained to make his move, Sanford ran to the top of the 3-point line and fired off a shot, but it hit off the back iron to send the game to overtime.
Dayton trailed by four with 1:11 remaining following a tip-in dunk by Ole Miss junior forward Aaron Jones. However, a jumper from sophomore forward Dyshawn Pierre cut the deficit to two with 55 seconds to go.
Ole Miss attempted to run the clock on its next possession, but Sanford came up with a steal at the free throw line.
Taking it to the rim himself, Sanford missed the layup, but freshman guard Kyle Davis got the rebound and hit a layup to tie the game with 23 seconds remaining.
The Rebels immediately took the ball back down the court with no timeouts left, but committed an offensive foul with 5.2 to go, setting up Oliver’s final shot.
“We got two stops in a row in overtime to get the ball and we’re very fortunate for [Oliver] to make the runner,” Miller said. “I couldn’t be more proud of our team to come on the road and you talk about being tough, sometimes being on the road means just hanging in there and having different guys step up and all of our guys, to their credit, believed when we came down here we were coming to compete.”
Oliver was 10-of-13 from the field, with seven rebounds and five assists to go with his 26 points, and was one of five UD players in double figures. Pierre and freshman guard Scoochie Smith both had 11. Sanford and redshirt senior center Matt Kavanaugh scoring 10.
Ole Miss junior guard Jarvis Summers had a career-high 29 points. Redshirt senior guard Marshall Henderson added 15.
Miller said he thought his team did a good job finding where Henderson was on the floor and was able to keep him in check.
The win was Dayton’s fourth against Ole Miss in the last five seasons, improving them to 5-0 all-time against the Rebels, and its eighth in a row over a Southeastern Conference opponent.
The game ended the out of conference portion of UD’s schedule, where it won at least 10 games for the eighth straight season. Next up is the beginning of Atlantic 10 Conference play, as Dayton hosts Saint Louis University Saturday, Jan. 11, at 11 a.m. at UD Arena.
“At the end of the day, non-conference is over,” Miller said. “It was a brutal non-conference schedule for us, but we’re tested and we’re ready as we go into A-10 play. Our guys understand how we have to play to be successful and we’re moving on.”