March Madness: Dayton stuns Nevada after Wolf Pack blow 17-point second-half lead

No. 7 Dayton scored 17 unanswered points in the second half to overcome a 17-point Nevada lead on the way to a 63-60 win on Thursday.

The No. 10 Wolf Pack were up 56-39 with less than eight minutes to go after Jarod Lucas hit a 3-pointer. Dayton then went on a 20-2 run in just over five minutes to take a 59-58 lead with 2:01 to go.

Nevada briefly retook the lead with under a minute to go, but Nate Santos made a layup with 37 seconds left to give Dayton the lead for good. Santos added two free throws with 15 seconds left to extend the Flyers’ lead to three before Nevada missed two chances at a game-tying 3-pointer before the buzzer.

Lucas’ 3-pointer to give Nevada its 17-point lead came with 7:36 to go. From there, the Flyers outscored the Wolf Pack 24-4 the rest of the way as they ratcheted up their defensive pressure.

Nevada had a nine-point lead at halftime and appeared well in control of the game for much of the second half. But then Dayton couldn’t miss. The Flyers didn’t miss a single of their seven field goal attempts during their flurry to end the game as Nevada turned it over three times and missed six 3s in the final seven minutes.

Dayton’s DaRon Holmes II led all scorers with 18 points as Lucas had 17. Both teams shot just over 44% from the field, but Dayton was better from behind the arc and got to the free throw line much more often than the Wolf Pack. The Flyers were 13-of-15 from the stripe and Nevada was just 3-of-6.

The victory is Dayton’s first tournament win since 2015 in their third appearance. The Flyers lost back-to-back first-round games in 2016 and 2017. That 2017 season was Dayton’s most recent tournament appearance until Thursday, though the Flyers were likely to be a No. 1 seed in the canceled 2020 tournament thanks to a 29-2 season.

Dayton will meet No. 2 Arizona to go to the Round of 32 on Saturday. The Wildcats beat No. 15 Long Beach State 85-65 before the Flyers and Wolf Pack tipped off.

Nevada has now lost three consecutive NCAA tournament games since making the Sweet 16 in 2018. The Wolf Pack lost in the First Four a season ago and fell in the first round as a No. 7 seed in 2018. Nevada is also the second Mountain West team already eliminated from the tournament after Boise State lost to Colorado on Wednesday night in the First Four.