Jordan Sibert was center of attention in last few minutes of regulation as Dayton advanced to Atlantic 10 championship. (Photo courtesy of Fox Sports)
Following a juggernaut performance by VCU to reach the Atlantic 10 championship game for a third consecutive season, Dayton relied on its defense to earn the right to face the Rams, doing so with a 56-52 victory over Rhode Island in the second semifinal of the day at Barclays Center. A look at the pace and efficiency numbers:
Possessions: Rhode Island 66, Dayton 61
Offensive Efficiency: Dayton 92, Rhode Island 79
eFG%: Rhode Island 48, Dayton 44
FT Rate: Dayton 36, Rhode Island 23
OREB%: Dayton 36, Rhode Island 27
TO Rate: Rhode Island 32, Dayton 20
What Dayton did well: Steal the game (no pun intended) on the defensive end. The Flyers prepared for tomorrow's meeting with VCU by channeling Shaka Smart's "Havoc" defense the best way they knew how, forcing 21 Rhode Island turnovers and walking away with 11 steals, their second consecutive game with 10 or more thefts, a point Archie Miller was proud to reference in his postgame press conference.
What Rhode Island did well: Use the three-point shot to remain in the game. Very rarely do you see a Dan Hurley team get outplayed defensively, but with Dayton stifling the Rams, E.C. Matthews took matters into his own hands, draining four of URI's eight three-pointers, alternating clutch shots down the stretch with Jared Terrell to keep the final outcome in doubt until the last possession, when Rhode Island tried unsuccessfully to get a steal off a Dayton inbounds pass.
Leading Scorers and OE:
Dayton: Jordan Sibert, 12 points (OE .556)
Rhode Island: E.C. Matthews, 16 points (OE .333)
Nuggets of Note
- Dayton advances to their first Atlantic 10 championship game since 2011, when the Flyers were upended in Atlantic City by a Richmond team that eventually reached the Sweet 16. At 25-7, Archie Miller's team is almost certain to hear their name announced by Greg Gumbel on Selection Sunday, where the Flyers will learn their fate as they look to replicate last season's run to the South Regional final.
- Rhode Island's season is not over at 22-9, but the Rams will have to settle for a trip to the National Invitation Tournament, where they stand a fair chance of hosting in the opening round. Despite not reaching the field of 68, the expected postseason berth still serves as an impressive indicator of progress since Hurley was tapped to replace Jim Baron in 2012.
"The difference in the game was probably the turnover margin, and our ability to convert some of them at big times." - Dayton head coach Archie Miller
"This was a really physical game, it was a tough defensive struggle. I think it got a little big for us today. We tried to do too much on our own, and it hurt us. We'll be thrilled with whatever postseason tournament we go to." - Rhode Island head coach Dan Hurley