Dayton upsets Gonzaga in first-round finale
LAHAINA – In a battle of two determined teams, the booster sections for Dayton and Gonzaga almost stole the show in the final game on the opening day of the EA Sports Maui Invitational at the Lahaina Civic Center.
The Flyers (5-0) overcame a 32.3-percent first-half shooting performance with a 60.7-percent clip in the second half to beat the Bulldogs 84-79.
Gonzaga, ranked 11th in the nation by the Associated Press, has an impressive and vociferous fan base, but the Flyers’ faithful may have outdone them on this night.
“In general when we play in a preseason event our fans take over the town and the event, it doesn’t matter (where it is),” Dayton coach Archie Miller said. “Our fans are always the most boisterous, most positive in every tournament. We have one of the best fan bases in the nation.”
Jordan Sibert led four Flyers in double figures with 23 points, while Dyshawn Pierre added 15, Devin Oliver had 12 and Khari Price chipped in 11.
Dayton will face No. 18 Baylor in a semifinal game at 4:30 p.m. today.
Gonzaga (4-1) will play Chaminade in a consolation game tipping off at 11:30 a.m.
Dayton shot 10-for-31 in the first half and trailed 37-28 at the break, but ended the half on a 14-3 run. The Flyers continued that with the first five points of the second half.
Dayton finally took the lead 46-45 on a 3-pointer by Price with 14 minutes, 25 seconds to play, setting off a one-minute span where the lead changed hands four times.
Kevin Pangos, who finished with a game-high 27 points, hit a 3-pointer with 12:59 left to give Gonzaga a 51-48 lead. Scoochie Smith answered with a 3-pointer for Dayton to tie it and the Flyers took the lead for good on a layup by Pierre with 11:49 left.
Dayton upped the margin to to 72-63 on two free throws by Oliver with 3:46 left.
The Bulldogs closed within 78-77 on a pair of foul shots and a layup by Pangos with 28 seconds to go, but Pierre made a pair of free throws with 22 seconds remaining after Pangos committed his fifth foul with two teammates close to Pierre.
“Early on I knew I had four fouls,” Pangos said. “I just kind of blanked (out) there. Some of the coaches were telling me. That was my fault. I should have known the foul situation. If I knew I wouldn’t have gone for it, but I just blanked.”
Gonzaga coach Mark Few said a huge key to the game was offensive rebounding – the Flyers had an 18-5 advantage.
“We knew we were going to be in a dogfight after watching tape on these guys,” Few said. “It’s been awhile – I can’t remember when, at least since I’ve been the head coach – we’re giving up 18 offensive rebounds. That’s something we take a lot of pride in. They just handed it to us on the glass.”
Sam Dower Jr., who had 18 points on 8-of-10 shooting and a team-high seven rebounds for Gonzaga, said the rebounds were the key – Dayton had a 40-29 overall advantage in the game on the boards.
“They definitely outrebounded us tonight,” said Dower, who fouled out after 32 minutes. “We focus on that and tonight they wanted the rebounds more, I guess. I got in foul trouble early so I was little tentative on defense. I had two stupid fouls early and I got into foul trouble.”
In the end, the building was rocking, but the Flyers’ fans were the ones who left happy.
“They told us before we even played we sold the most tickets – that means a lot to us players,” Oliver said.
Sibert immediately chimed in: “It was home game for us, just the feeling of energy.”
* Robert Collias is at email@example.com
Price 3-7 2-3 11, Oliver 3-6 6-7 12, Pierre 5-14 5-5 15, Sibert 8-11 2-4 23, Kavanaugh 1-5 0-0 2, Davis 0-0 0-0 0, Smith 1-4 1-3 4, Robinson 1-1 0-0 2, Pollard 4-4 1-4 9, Scott 1-3 4-9 6, Sanford 0-4 0-0 0. Totals 27-59 21-35 84.
Pangos 6-14 13-14 27, Bell, Jr. 5-7 0-0 12, Stockton 0-5 6-6 6, Karnowski 3-4 1-3 7, Dower 8-10 1-1 18, Coleman 3-7 1-1 7, Dranginis 1-3 0-0 2, Barham 0-4 0-0 0. Totals 26-54 22-25 79.
Halftime-Gonzaga 37-28. 3-Point Goals-Dayton 9-21 (Sibert 5-8, Price 3-5, Smith 1-2, Oliver 0-1, Sanford 0-2, Pierre 0-3), Gonzaga 5-19 (Bell, Jr. 2-3, Pangos 2-7, Dower 1-1, Coleman 0-1, Dranginis 0-1, Stockton 0-2, Barham 0-4). Fouled Out-Dower, Karnowski, Pangos. Rebounds-Dayton 40 (Pierre, Scott 9), Gonzaga 29 (Dower 7). Assists-Dayton 10 (Oliver 3), Gonzaga 12 (Stockton 7). Total Fouls-Dayton 25, Gonzaga 28. A-2,400.