BUFFALO, N.Y. — The swan song has been sung for the Ohio State Buckeyes.
As senior guard Aaron Craft’s desperation shot at the buzzer fell hopelessly to the floor, so did his career at OSU, as the No. 6-seed Buckeyes fell to No. 11-seed Dayton, 60-59, Thursday.
Craft made a tough layup in the lane with less than 20 seconds to play to put his team ahead by one, but a running layup by Dayton redshirt-senior guard Vee Sanford proved to be the difference as the Flyers — and ex-Buckeye guard Jordan Sibert — pulled the upset.
OSU started quickly, leading 7-3 after a layup by senior guard Lenzelle Smith Jr. at the 16:43 mark.
But Dayton responded, scoring 10 of the game’s next 12 points after Flyer redshirt-senior center Matt Kavanaugh finished off a 3-point play.
The Flyers held the lead until Craft made two free throws with 8:15 left in the first half to give the Buckeyes the lead, 22-21. Craft finished a perfect 3-3 from the field and 3-3 from the line in the first half, on his way to a team-high nine points in the game’s opening 20 minutes.
The game remained close for the remainder of the first half, but Dayton took a 33-30 lead to the break behind nine points from Kavanaugh.
OSU came out sluggish in the second half, allowing the Flyers to extend their lead to 41-34, with 15 minutes to play.
But back-to-back dunks by junior forward Sam Thompson and a bucket by Ross tied the game at 41 with 10:58 remaining.
Thompson tipped in a missed 3-pointer by Craft on the Buckeyes’ next possession for OSU’s first lead since the 8:15 mark of the first half.
A rugged game ensued, and the Buckeyes led 50-49 before freshman forward Marc Loving picked up his fourth foul of the game. Sophomore forward Dyshawn Pierre then made two free throws to put the Flyers back in front by one.
But after former Buckeye and now Flyer Sibert missed a 3-pointer, Craft drove the lane and scored to put OSU back up. He missed the free throw, but OSU still led, 52-51 with 3:32 left.
Dayton senior forward Devin Oliver scored at the other end, and after a turnover by OSU, Craft committed a flagrant-1 foul on Sibert as he drove to the hoop. Sibert nailed both free throws, and Dayton led by three.
But Craft responded with yet another and-one, this time making the free throw to tie the game at 55 and lead to the dramatic finish.
Craft finished with 16 points, five rebounds and four assists in his final game as a Buckeye, and Thompson finished with a game-high 18. After his game-winning shot, Sanford tallied 10 points for the Flyers, who are set to face the winner of No. 3-seed Syracuse and No. 14-seed Western Michigan Saturday.
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